Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Enough Serena Bashing ... Let It Go

You saw and heard what Serena Williams did at the U.S. Open last week, and you’re shocked and angry. Fair enough. But it’s not just that.

You think she’s a disgrace to her sport. You think she’s tarnished her reputation and her legacy. You think that she really did “threaten’’ the line judge, came at her with the intention of taking her life in front of a packed stadium and a national television audience. You think that if she’s said and done that “on the street,’’ she’d surely be arrested and thrown in jail.

You demand an apology, then another one, then another one, then berate her for offering it too late, or for the first being too weak. You think her fine should have been a whole lot bigger, like her entire winnings from the Open. You think she should be suspended, too.

(Continue The Steele Drum)

Please Fix the FedEx Cup Already!

Because we believe in straight talk and candor in the Grill Room, the management feels compelled to warn you that this column is mostly about golf's FedEx Cup.
Who says we don't look after you around here, eh?

To those of you brave enough to stick this one out, let's move on...

Yes, golf's version of the 'playoffs' has improved. The gods of Ponte Vedra Beach actually managed to make the confounding format a little more compelling and comprehensible this year.

And, yes again, the result of any championship system (sorry, Commissioner Finchem, this is a points race, not a playoff), no matter how wacky, should be to determine the best player or team when it is all over.

Well, right now Tiger Woods is leading the FedEx race, and even if he took an 0-for-4 in this year's majors, is still undeniable the game's best player by about the length of a solidly struck 3-wood.

(Continue to The Grill Room)

Around the NFL: Week 1

CHECKING IN WITH CHAD: You are not forgotten, Chad Pennington. Pennington had a typical Pennington day passing, at least in the positive stats category, in the Dolphins' 19-7 loss to the Falcons. Pennington was 21-29 for 176 yards (that's vintage Pennington) with a touchdown and interception each. But he also fumbled, making him responsible for 2 of the Dolphins' four costly turnovers. The numbers look OK, but it wasn't a great day for Chad.

WISHY-WASHINGTON: I swear the only time I've seen the Redskins move the ball well the past couple of years is when they're trailing in the final five minutes of a ballgame. That was when they looked the best against the Giants on Sunday, when Jason Campbell brought them to within six points (big back-door cover!) on a 17-yard TD pass to Chris Cooley. Otherwise the Redskins looked terrible against a Giants team that kind of dominated the game...but it's hard to judge because of how badly the Redskins played. I'm still not buying into the Giants a ton - but I think I may have miscalculated the Redskins. I thought they were better than they looked in Week 1.

(Continue to 200 Miles From the Citi)

Waiting to See Quinn? Not Worth It

So, Brown fans waited for this?

For two years, they have clamored for Brady Quinn to take the reins of the team’s offense. Quinn, a first-round refugee of the Phil Savage regime, had the pedigree: an Ohioan, a Notre Dame alum with the golden boy’s persona.

Derek Anderson, Quinn’s rival for the job, was the rifle-armed gunslinger from Oregon – the outsider who never caught the fancy of Browns fans. For no matter what he did -- and Anderson did plenty during his Pro Bowl season of 2007 – he couldn’t get out from under Quinn’s shadow.

(Continue to Justice Is Served)

Bucs Must Handle Two Big Losses

Raheem Morris called it a "huge loss," and he wasn't talking about the Sunday afternoon defensive fiasco that cost his team immensely in that 35-21 loss to the Dallas Cowboys.

Losing to the Cowboys was bad enough, losing his best offensive lineman made it all the worse.

Morris confirmed Monday that center Jeff Faine is lost for what could be four-to-six weeks with a torn bicep tendon. "It depends on the pain and when he can go," Morris said of Faine's projected return.

(Continue to Buccaneer Bow Shots)

Osi a Big Return for Giants

It was a transaction that slipped under the radar of a lot of NFL observers in the off-season, but the Giants acquired the services of an All-Pro defensive end.
For a defense that was already one of the best in the business, that is no small addition.

Having Osi Umenyiora back on the defensive line is a major addition for the Giants, and he proved why in Sunday’s easier-than-it-looked 23-17 win over Washington.

Umenyiora, 27, missed all of the 2008 season after undergoing knee surgery last August. He suffered a torn lateral meniscus cartilage in his left knee in a preseason game against the Jets on Aug. 23 and was placed on injured reserve three days later.

(Continue to New York Minute)

Gators Free Fall to No. 4

Despite its commanding lead in the human polls, the Florida Gators have dropped to No. 4 in the latest BCS standings (simulated). The Gators are now not even the highest ranked team in the SEC, falling behind No. 3 Alabama. Texas keeps a slim lead ahead of the Tide at No. 2, while USC has ascended to the top spot with a sizable lead.

Let's cut to the chase, what's happening with the Gators?

With four computers ratings (out of six) already available, the placements in the standings are fairly stable. That the Gators are No. 4 is purely the product of their early-season cupcake schedule.

Florida is No. 5 in Billingsley (and typically the most likely to produce an outlier), the highest of the four computer rankings. It's 20th in Sagarin, 35th (and no points) in Colley and 533rd(!) in Massey. In contrast, USC is ranked 1st, 1st, 13th and 12th by those computers, respectively.

(Continue to BCS Guru)

The Founding Fathers and BCS

I received a letter from Specialist Rich Stowell the other day that led to the idea for this post. Rich's take on the BCS and what some of the founding fathers would have thought about it is quite interesting. My vision of the way things might have gone is a bit different...

Founding Fathers

A crowded bar in Boston.

George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, and Alexander Hamilton sit around a table eating and drinking.


“Gentlemen, now that we’ve shed the yoke of tyranny, it’s time to talk about another pressing matter important to this new country of ours – devising a better way to figure out which of our states is the yearly champion.”


“Hear hear!”

(Continue to The National Championship Issue)

What We Learned This Week

1. Paul Johnson is, without a doubt, the best coach in the ACC. He always seems to make the right decisions (fake field goal in the 1st half), gets the most out of his players (Josh Nesbitt is the only QB in the FBS that looks worse throwing the ball than Terrelle Pryor), and his always seems in control of the game. Hopefully I didn’t just jinx him for Thursday night’s game versus the Hurricanes.

2. The billboard was right. Charlie Weis proved that he has no business being a head coach at a major program (I know, I know Notre Dame and major program in the same sentence). Notre Dame has the ball on second down, 2:25 left in the game, Michigan has just called their 1st timeout of the second half. Common sense tells you that you run the ball two times, Michigan either uses its last two timeouts or Notre Dame uses about half the time left on the clock – either way it’s a win-win for the Irish. So what does the offensive guru do? Two pass plays, both of which are incomplete. End result Michigan scores the game winning touchdown with 0:11 left on the clock. Brilliant coaching by the Apprentice.

(Continue to Saurian Sagacity)

The Youth Shines for Georgia

By no means did Georgia play a great game.

Sure, the game itself was great, but Georgia proved in its uncharacteristic 41-37 win over South Carolina on Saturday that it still has lots of things to work on.

But we did learn one thing: When called upon, the youngins will respond. And they definitely did Saturday.

How about the Gamecocks seizing momentum after forcing A.J. Green to fumble in the first quarter? How about the Gamecocks taking that momentum and turning it into six points in two minutes?

(Continue to The Chapel Bell)

LifeLock Tops in WNBA

When Diana Taurasi and Cappie Pondexter go up against San Antonio in an opening round WNBA playoff game Thursday, you won't see "Phoenix" or "Mercury" on their uniform jersey tops, except for the small team logo. Instead, you'll see "LifeLock."

Going into the playoffs, the Mercury and their stars Taurasi and Pondexter are entering as the team to beat. The pair are the league's top two scorers, leading the club to the WNBA's best regular season record at 23-11. As the games tip off on ESPN2 -- the Washington Mystics made it and will host Indiana Thursday night at 7 -- the playoffs again will give the WNBA a much needed boost of television exposure after playing its regular during idle summer months.

Since June, Mercury uniforms have been adorned with the LifeLock name, a Tempe, AZ identity theft prevention company. The Mercury are even selling the jerseys that way at the WNBA online store, part of a multi-year marketing partnership with LifeLock. To boot, when existing jerseys with the Mercury name on the front are sold out, only those LifeLock ones will be available.

No other American sports team has gone so far as to actually place the name of a sponsor on its uniform instead of the team name.

(Continue to DMA 7-22 Sports)
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