Wednesday, August 27, 2008

A Time To Step Up And Sit Down

Shawne Merriman is a tough guy.

He's so tough that he apparently is willing to risk his career as one of the best defensive players in the NFL, as well as his long-term health, to stand side-by-side with his teammates and try to capture that elusive Super Bowl ring.

Now that sounds noble and certainly proves Merriman's devotion to his teammates. However it also sounds like one of the worst ideas I've ever heard.

Not one, not two, not three, but four different doctors have told Merriman that he's risking career-ending injury by continuing to play on a knee that has tears in both the posterior cruciate and lateral collateral ligaments. That means he's putting himself at risk no matter what direction he tries to cut and run.

Last time I checked, running and cutting was a fairly important part of his job in chasing down quarterbacks and ball-carriers. Even if he is somehow able to move freely and endure the pain that those movements certainly bring him, lets not forget the linemen, tight ends and running backs who I doubt will stop and think about his knee before they try and cut him down on his way to the quarterback.

You can't begin to tell me that with his knee in the condition that it's in he can be anywhere near the caliber of player he expects himself to be. To me, his decision to continue playing is a selfish one in that in trying to prove how tough he is, he's actually hurting the defense as a unit.

There is an unwritten rule among football players that if you're hurt, you play. But if you're injured it's up to you to do what's best for your team. That is clearly something that Merriman will not do.

All that to say, the onus now is on the Chargers to cut Merriman off at the pass here. Beyond what a less-than-100% Merriman means to a defense built on speed and creating turnovers, the Chargers have a responsibility to protect the player from himself.

As far as I know no one is going to stop paying Merriman if he sits out this year. Sure he might lose out on a few bonuses for not making the Pro Bowl as well as other performance benchmarks, but they're not going to cut him.

So for the Chargers this comes down to protecting the health of one of their employees, something every organization in sports as well as business is supposed to do. If the Chargers allow Merriman to take the field this season and he does permanent damage to himself, they will share the blame evenly with Merriman himself for this unbelieveably poor decision.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Bad Break

Just a quick note I wanted to pass along. Former Vikings' WR and friend of Quick Hits..., Jason Carter, was placed in injured reserve today by the Carolina Panthers after he tore his ACL in Saturday night's pre-season game vs. the Redskins.

This is really too bad because JC was pretty much assured of making the Panthers' 53-man roster and was finally going to get his shot in regular game action.

He's a tough guy so I'm sure he'll do everything he can to fight back from this and I suspect we'll see him on an NFL football field again.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Monday Musings

The Olympics are now a distant memory, baseball is headed for the stretch run, college football starts this week and the NFL gets underway next week. It's a great time to be a sports fan.

  • The so-called "Redeem Team" won its gold medal after sweating through a spirited effort from Spain who gave the U.S. all it could handle. It wasn't the prettiest performance of the games for the NBA's brighest, but in the end they got the job done.

    I stayed up late to watch the game live and I couldn't help but think about why the NBA game in my opinion is suffering a bit right now. Despite showcasing some of the biggest stars in the history of the game in Kobe and LeBron, it was disturbing just how fundamentally deficient most of the American players are.

    Outside of point guards Chris Paul and Deron Williams who I thought managed the game well and played under control, the rest of the team did what NBA players do and relied too heavily on their stunning athleticism.

    Too often they got out of position on defense because of poor footwork and it cost them as the Spanish team was able to penetrate at will while the Americans gambled for steals. On the offensive end it was an endless stream of out-of-control dashes to the basket or ill-advised three pointers that nearly got them beat in the one game that mattered most.

    Like I said, a win is a win and bringing home the gold medal is the most important thing. However something needs to change about the way young American basketball players learn the game if we expect to get back to the type of utter dominance we all expect from the best players from the world's premier league.

  • Big props to the little league team from Hawaii who dominated the team from Mexico to take home the state's second Little League World Series title in four years.

    I was really impressed by the team's style and especially pitcher Caleb Duhay's strike zone pounding approach. Too often the 11 and 12 year old players rely on big breaking balls and have a hard time locating any of their pitches because of poor mechanics. But I have to give it up to Duhay and his coaches for stressing the importance of throwing strikes.

    I could have done without the big league home run trots from some of the kids, but hey, they were having fun with it so I can't really hate on that.

  • As it turns out the San Francisco 49ers may have been doomed no matter what when it came time to pick a quarterback in 2005.

    The prevailing thought that year was that if Heisman Trophy winner Matt Leinart had left USC early that he would have been the Niners' #1 pick. As it turned out he stayed in school and they picked Utah's Alex Smith instead.

    Fast forward to today and both Smith and Leinart have been passed over for starting gigs on their respective teams. Hey, maybe they could swap the signal callers for one another and see what happens.

  • Two of the NFL's fiercest defensive players have been hit with major injuries in the last week as Chargers' defensive end Shawne Merriman found out he has two ligament tears in his left knee, and Giants' end Osi Umenyiora is out for the season with an ACL tear.

    Merriman has yet to make a decision whether or not he'll try to play through the injury, but if I were him I'd take the season off and try to get healthy. It does make you wonder however if his past steroid use has anything to do with the sudden breakdown of a once unbreakable physique.

    For Umenyiora the injury is unfortunate, but reports are that it may have saved us from having to watch Michael Strahan yuck it up on Fox this season as he is considering a comeback.

    Fellow NFC East defensive end Jason Taylor escaped a potentially devastating end to his first season in Washington as he only sprained his right knee against the Panthers Saturday night. He'll be out 10-14 days and may miss the season opener.

    These types of injuries can of course occur at any time in a game as violent as football, but once again it has to call into the question the need for four pre-season games. When you add mini and training camps to the mix it seems to me that most teams would be able to make personnel decisions with just two of the meaningless contests. Of course then the poor NFL might lose out on millions in revenue, so we know that won't happen anytime soon.

  • If you like baseball even a little bit you have to be impressed with what's going on in Tampa Bay this season. Even without their two best players (Carl Crawford and Evan Longoria) the Rays have managed to hang onto a 4.5 game lead in the AL East with no signs of slowing down.

    Last week I wrote that they should be taking a closer look at Barry Bonds as a possible fill-in in the middle of their batting order, but the way they are playing right now makes have to re-think that. Hell, if it weren't for the non-hustle of center fielder B.J. Upton they might have an even bigger lead right now.

  • Cal head football coach Jeff Tedford finally came to his senses (sort of) and named sophomore Kevin Riley the team's starting quarterback after a heated competition this spring between Riley and and senior incumbent Nate Longshore.

    Of course Tedford wouldn't commit all the way to Riley, saying that Longshore would indeed play in the season opener against Michigan State. That of course is exactly what you want to do with a young quarterback, have him looking over his shoulder constantly. Just ask Matt Leinart how that is working out in Arizona.

  • Thanks to NBC's coverage of the Olympics, most of the world missed out on one of the best performances by one of the brightest young golfers on the planet, New Zealand's Danny Lee.

    Lee, who was born in South Korea, became the youngest ever to win the U.S. Amateur, wiping out one of Tiger Woods' myriad of amateur records. At just 18 years (and 1 month) old, Lee is the top-ranked amateur player in the world and he justified that ranking by steamrolling Florida State's Drew Kittleson, 5 and 4.

    Lee was an impressive 11-under par through the 32 holes played on Sunday on the famed and monstrously difficult Pinehurst No. 2. The Golf Channel broadcast every round of the event, but for a tournament that has seen its share of non-descript champions over the last several years, it was really too bad that Lee didn't get the network TV treatment the biggest tournament in amateur golf usually gets.

    Look out for Lee in next year's first two majors, The Masters and the U.S. Open, where he would be teeing it up with the big boys as long as keeps his amateur status. Lee was great to watch with his go-for-it style and Tiger-like ability to extract himself from trouble all over the course.

    When told of his possible pairing with Woods in the 2009 U.S. Open Lee was, lets say, a little excited.

    "Oh, my God. ... Yeah. That's a, oh, that's a special thing for me. ... Wow. I'm going to beat him."

    Good luck with that Danny.

  • The other U.S. Open starts today, begging the question, if a tennis tournament happens and no one hears it, does it make a sound?

  • The San Francisco Giants have won a season-high 5 straight games and Barry Zito has won back-to-back starts. Someone check on Hell to make sure no one down there needs a coat.

  • 7 Miami football players have been suspended for the season opener against Charlston Southern and the sun will rise tomorrow morning. So not much has changed really.

  • Had my first fantasy football draft last night and landed the #1 overall pick. I had to take LaDainian Tomlinson even though he's not who I really wanted. Not sure why exactly, I guess I'm just dreading a decline in his production at some point.

    The rest of my roster includes QBs Drew Brees and Davis Garrard, RBs Darren McFadden, DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart and Ray Rice, WRs Larry Fitzgerald, Calvin Johnson, Ted Ginn Jr., Nate Burleson and Ronald Curry, TE Vernon Davis and Ks Mason Crosby and Jeff Reed.

    Not bad, but I look at this team and I think I'm either going to win the whole thing or finish dead last. There will be no in between.

  • One last late note from today. Oregon QB Nate Costa will be sidelined for a minimum of 8-10 weeks after he re-injured his surgically repaired left knee. As you'll remember it was another knee injury that torpedoed the Ducks chances at a shot at the title last year when former QB Dennis Dixon was injured.

Friday, August 22, 2008

The Power Of Three: Athletes Turned Sportscasters

Watch any telecast of any sporting event anywhere and 99% of the time right there alongside the host or play-by-play man will be an ex-athlete who has traded his career as an on-field participant for a seat in the broadcast booth.

Generally speaking these ex-athletes provide a nice balance with their usually overly dramatic and sometimes clueless partners, providing insight that only someone with experience in that particular sport can give.

In the best cases the ex-athlete will add that little extra something to a broadcast that can help the average fan at home better understand what it is they're seeing and why the subtle nuances of sport are so important.

Many times however the untrained, vocabulary-less jock-in-a-tie will drag their professionally trained cohort down leaving them to sort out the jumbled mess of a production that, while at times amusing, is usually enough for people to turn off the sound or change the channel altogether.

Here now a quick look at three former players who I think have made an effortless transition from the field to the booth and three that need to go enjoy their millions and leave the rest of us in peace.

Top Three:
  1. Troy Aikman - Far and away the best football player turned broadcaster, it took Aikman just a single season before he had ascended to the top spot as part of the lead broadcast team at Fox alongside Emmy Award winner Joe Buck.

    One of the rare ex-athletes who can at times actually carry a broadcast when the better-suited-for-baseball Buck finds himself without anything interesting to say. Aikman is the one guy I look forward to hearing from every Sunday as he is the perfect blend of quality delivery and deep knowledge base.

  2. Orel Hershiser - Once one of the toughest pitchers in baseball, Hershiser has carried his studied and professional approach on the mound over into the broadcast booth where he currently works as an analyst for ESPN.

    Known during his playing days for always being prepared, Hershiser clearly the brings the same attitude to his work as an announcer as he always seems to have that little nugget of information that the casual fan will undoubtedly learn something from. He's steady, reliable and professional and a treat to listen to whether he's covering the stars in the big leagues or the kids at the Little League World Series.

  3. Duane Kuiper and Mike Krukow - I'll admit it, this is a homer pick from me, but I don't really care. Known to San Francisco Giants fans simply as "Kruk and Kuip" these two ex-ballplayers form what for my money is the best broadcast team in all of baseball. And it's not even close, meat.

    From Kruk's "Eliminator" to Kuip's now (in)famous home run call, this duo is the total package when it comes to doing baseball. They're funny, insightful, passionate and professional. No over-the-top homerism's or annoying schtick here, just two good baseball men who deliver quality broadcast after quality broadcast. It's a shame more people don't get the chance to listen to them, but to be honest as a Giants fan it's kind of nice to have something this good all to myself.

    Honorable Mention - Tom Jackson (ESPN), Patrick McEnroe (CBS, ESPN), Mark Jackson (ESPN), Daryl Johnston (Fox), Nick Faldo (CBS, Golf Channel, ESPN), Jay Bilas (ESPN), Gary McCord (CBS), David Feherty (CBS)

Bottom Three:
  1. Emmitt Smith - One of the all-time greatest football players and one hell of a dancer, Smith has surprisingly fallen flat on his face as a studio analyst for ESPN's Monday Night Countdown.

    There's no questioning his credentials, but more often than not his analysis is a difficult to understand mish-mash of words that unfortunately at times paint him as unintelligent. While that is certainly not the case, his obvious lack of broadcasting savvy makes him downright difficult to watch.

  2. Eric Young - The Mayor of Souvenir City, Young made his mark in the big leagues as a guy who was dependable and flexible, playing both the infield and outfield at the highest level. These days fans of ESPN's Baseball Tonight are forced to watch him commit error after error on the set of the popular show.

    While I could have picked from several of Baseball Tonight's analysts (Orestes Desdrade, Eduardo Perez, Fernando Vina) it's Young who takes the cake with an uncanny ability to muck up highlight after highlight with his non-existent sense of timing and smoothness.

  3. Bill Walton - Passionate, check. Intelligent, check. Knowledgeable, double-check. Annoying as all get out, oh hell yes. Walton is the rare athlete turned broadcaster who somehow manages to deliver interesting information that would in most cases enhance a broadcast, but instead manages to make me want to pull my nose hairs out one by one.

    No one rambles quite like Walton who routinely forces those brave enough to interview him to cut him off mid-sentence in order to move the show forward. He knows his stuff and his love for the game is astounding, but when I'd rather smash my finger in a car door than listen to someone carry on as Walton does, something is terribly wrong.

    (Dis)Honorable Mention - Keyshawn Johnson (ESPN), Rick Sutcliffe (ESPN), Brian Baldinger (Fox), Mark May (ESPN, ABC), Lanny Wadkins (CBS), Ron Santo (Cubs Radio), Mark Grace (FSN Arizona)

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Matchup: Alex Smith vs. J.T. O'Sullivan

Welcome to another of the weekly features I'm rolling out here at Quick Hits... simply called "Matchup". Each week I'll take two opposing figures, teams, issues, etc. and pit them against one another.

This week we start with the hot topic surrounding the San Francisco 49ers these days, the quarterback battle. Former No. 1 overall pick Alex Smith has seemingly lost his job to journeyman J.T. O'Sullivan and on the eve of their third pre-season game we take a closer look at who should be calling the shots in the city by the bay.

Alex Smith - To this point in his career you could call Alex Smith a bona fide bust and another in a long line of quarterbacks taken early who fell flat on his face.

His career quarterback rating of 63.5 is lower than that of fellow first-round flops Cade McNown and Todd Marinovich thanks in large part to a 19-to-31 touchdown-to-interception ratio over his three year career.

Thought to be a cerebral signal caller with the ability to move and make plays on the run, Smith instead has been the picture of confusion on the field. Routinely holding the ball too long and making questionable decisions with the football, Smith has done little to prove his backers right.

To point out just how ineffective he's been in his efforts to put points of the board, in 32 career games he's completed only 11 passes on 40 yards or more and has averaged only 5.8 yards per completion.

However for all his faults, it's impossible to place the blame solely at his feet. Not once in his going on four year career has Smith had the same offensive coordinator from one season to the next. That's like showing up to your 9-to-5 every January 1st only to find out everything you were doing the year before is obsolete and you've been returned to "new guy" status. Not fun.

Add to that a less-than-stellar supporting cast and an untimely injury here and there, and the weight of No. 1 overall expectations become near impossible to carry. To most who know what they're talking about, the verdict on Smith is still out. But has his window of opportunity closed or will he get one last shot to prove himself worthy of his lofty draft status?

J.T. O'Sullivan - When you talk about O'Sullivan you can basically forget tossing out any sort of career numbers. In fact he barely has any to speak of having only appeared in five games and attempting only 26 passes, all of them last year in mop-up duty with the Detroit Lions.

Originally a 6th-round pick of the New Orleans Saints in 2002, O'Sullivan was inactive for his entire first two seasons in the NFL before being waived and then traded to the Green Bay Packers.

O'Sullivan's most notable accomplishments came as a top quarterback in NFL Europa where he led the Frankfurt Galaxy to the World Bowl in 2004 and was named Offensive co-MVP in 2007. Coming off of that MVP performance overseas, O'Sullivan caught the eye of new 49ers offensive coordinator Mike Martz while he was with the Detroit Lions.

That turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to O'Sullivan who, until meeting Martz, had underwhelmed each and every NFL offensive coordinator he had come in contact with. The guy was even cut by the offensively challenged '06 Vikings.

Through two pre-season games with the 49ers, O'Sullivan is 13-for-25 with a touchdown and an interception, which along with his performance on the practice field (and in Martz's heart) has apparently been enough to convince the 49ers coaching staff that O'Sullivan is their guy.

The Verdict - The reports out of San Francisco have head coach Mike Nolan deferring to his offensive coordinator in this case in an effort to save his job. Which to me means Nolan must really want out of San Francisco, bad.

Just the thought of J.T. O'Sullivan as the 49ers opening day quarterback makes me throw up in my mouth just a little. Honestly, can somebody please explain to me what he's done to earn the starting gig here? I bet you can't. Hell, I bet he can't.

I'm not going to sit here and try to convince you that Alex Smith is all of a sudden going to turn into Tom Brady, but he deserves the opportunity to start for a team that is finally starting to come together in all the other facets of the game.

Not only is Smith the more experienced player, but for my money he's the superior talent. He's quicker on his feet, he's got a cleaner delivery of the football (O'Sullivan kind of pushes the ball out) and having seen O'Sullivan up close I can tell you that Smith couldn't possibly be as bad a decision maker as the man poised to take his job.

O'Sullivan will get the start on Thursday night and likely will do the same in the regular season opener against the Arizona Cardinals. For 49ers fans that fact may very well signal an early look ahead to 2009.

Anyone have Brady Quinn's phone number?

Monday, August 18, 2008

Monday Musings

Welcome to an all-new feature here at Quick Hits... that I like to call "Monday Musings". Every Monday I'll take a quick look at the stories that caught my eye from the week prior and share my thoughts on each.

  • What better place to start of course than with Michael Phelps, the man who may have cemented his place as the greatest Olympic athlete of all time with a week-long performance for the ages in which he tallied eight (that's 8!!!) gold medals and surpassed the once thought untouchable record held by the great Mark Spitz

    I've been alive for eight (spooky) Olympic Games and never before have felt the type of palpable heart-thumping nervousness during an Olympic event that I felt each and every time Phelps took to the pool.

    His truly astounding feat of athleticism is something that I feel privileged to have seen and something that I will no doubt be telling my kids about years from now.

  • Another Olympic athlete who grabbed the spotlight and refused to let it go was gymnast Nastia Liukin. Now anyone who knows me knows that I don't particularly care for the non-sport that is gymnastics (we'll save that discussion for later), but I was captivated by the perpetually leggy Liukin and her stunning gold medal performance in the individual all-around competition.

    Perhaps it was the influence of her Olympic champion father, 1988 gold-medalist Valeri Liukin, but the unbelievable focus that Nastia exhibited in the face of a highly-biased crowd as well as some questionable judging was nothing short of extraordinary.

    Phelps had me glued to the television for obvious reasons, but it was Liukin who surprisingly grabbed my attention and became arguably my favorite Olympian in 2008.

  • Staying with the Olympic theme for just a bit longer, I'd be remissed if I didn't mention the disappointments that unfortunately stood out among all the American triumphs in Beijing.

    First would have to be gymnast and team captain Alicia Sacramone, whose two major mistakes during the the team finals will forever be seen as the difference between silver and gold for the American women.

    What was saddest about the situation was that it was clear that Sacramone was the inspirational leader on a team poised to make history. In the face of key injuries, Sacramone could be seen pumping up her less experienced teammates and you could feel the disappointment when she failed to hold up her end of the bargain.

    Impressively, Sacramone refused to pout or make excuses, choosing instead to do what all good leaders do and take responsibility for her missteps.

    The other massive disappointment in my eyes was the non-performance of swimmer Katie Hoff who came into the games as a strong favorite in several events and yet consistently came up short in the biggest moments.

    First she failed to qualify for the event most had her pegged to win pre-race, the 800-meter freestyle, and followed that lackluster performance up with several more down-the-stretch fade jobs.

    While her Olympics weren't a total failure as she managed two bronze medals and one silver, the lasting image of Hoff for me will be the bewildered look she seemed to flash at the end of every race, as if to imply that even she could not believe how poorly she performed overall.

  • Jamaica's Usain Bolt is the fastest man in the world and already I can't wait until someone slaps that stupid grin off his face.

  • Mixed feelings about the San Francisco Giants $6.2 million bonus for their top draft choice, catcher Buster Posey out of Florida State.

    Part of me is excited to get the young man into the fold and happy to see the organization's commitment to scouting and signing big time talent. But I also find myself having to question the notion of any team giving a guy with exactly zero major league at-bats that kind of money guaranteed.

    I can't fault Posey or his agent Scott Boras for seeking the large payday as they clearly were just exploiting the system as it stands. I just hope for the Giants sake that Posey reaches the big leagues quickly and has the kind of impact that many in the know think he can.

    By comparison the number one overall pick, high school shortstop Tim Beckham, received a $6.15 million bonus from the Tampa Bay Rays.

  • Vikings' QB Tarvaris Jackson suffered a sprained MCL in his right knee during the team's second pre-season game on Saturday. An injury that at first was believed to be only a bruise.

    Reports are that Jackson should not miss the Vikings' season opener on Monday Night Football in Green Bay, and may in fact play as early as this Saturday vs. the Steelers. As many people have mentioned, Jackson holds the key to the Vikings' fortunes in 2008. However I hardly see the difference in the offense when Jackson is at the helm and when veteran backup Gus Frerotte is leading the charge.

    Sure Jackson brings the added element of athleticism and escape-ability, but with a nicked up leg you have to wonder just how effective the still unfinished Jackson can be should he be forced to miss the final two pre-season games.

  • That other quarterback who nearly landed in Minneapolis did pretty well in his first action with his new team. Yay. But his name will still never grace this blog.

  • If we have indeed seen the last of Tom Glavine, the sure-fire Hall of Fame pitcher will be remembered as one of the best ever and a true inspiration to me in my younger days as a pitcher.

  • What in the Eastern Hemisphere is going on with all of these B and C-list NBA players defecting overseas? The latest player on the move is former New Orleans Hornet Jannero Pargo who agreed on a one-year deal with Dynamo Moscow worth a reported $3.5 million after taxes.

    Now I've never been one to say a guy shouldn't do something that is clearly in their best interests financially, but this is an alarming and disturbing trend if you're a fan of NBA basketball.

    Along with Pargo, former Magic guard Carlos Arroyo took a three-year deal from Israel's Maccabi Tel-Aviv, former Bobcats guard (and my wife's favorite player) Earl Boykins signed a one-year deal with Italy's Virtus Bologna and former Hawks forward Josh Childress signed a three-year deal with Greek club Olympiacos.

    Now I don't believe for a second that the Kobe Bryant's and LeBron James' of the world would make that kind of jump, but it makes you wonder just what's going on in the NBA when legitimate NBA-caliber talent is choosing to play somewhere other than the best basketball league on Earth.

  • In the same week the AL East leading Tampa Bay Rays lost arguably their two best offensive players to injury, left-fielder Carl Crawford and the game's best rookie, third baseman Evan Longoria.

    Longoria may be back sooner than later, but Crawford will miss the remainder of the regular season and it would be quite impressive if he were ready for the playoffs should the Rays make it that far.

    Of course there is one man out there who by all accounts is in great shape, rearing to go and willing to play for the minimum. He hit 28 home runs in 2007 with an OPS of 1.051 and did it all while playing in only 126 games, the bulk of which he played in one of the best pitcher's ballparks in all of baseball.

    His name of course is Barry Bonds and even the Rays, who have gone from annual cellar-dweller to first place darlings in the course of the last calendar year, will not touch him with a 34-inch/32-oz. maple bat. Did I mention he's willing to play for the league minimum?

    Unfortunately for Bonds and the few of us in the world who long to see him play one more time, there is virtually no chance he will find himself on a big league roster ever again. It's near impossible to prove collusion of course, but I for one firmly believe there is no solid baseball reason why a team in contention and in need of a bat couldn't take on Bonds and his unquestionable talent.

  • Meanwhile the Arizona Diamondbacks gave up two prospects and a legit big league starter in the form of Micah Owings to acquire Reds' slugger Adam Dunn for the next two months.

    Dunn will hit the open market at season's end and is likely to receive a hefty payday from someone. I watched him all last year and you can't tell me Barry Bonds is any worse in the outfield than Dunn and I'd be willing to bet Bonds wouldn't hit .236.

    OK, I'll stop.

  • The Georgia Bulldogs are the consensus No. 1 team in the country according to the major pre-season college football polls. It's the first time since 1982 that the Dawgs have been ranked that high.

    Good luck fellas. One look at that brutal schedule which includes road games at #15 Arizona State, #7 LSU and #10 Auburn, not to mention games against #24 Alabama, #18 Tennessee and #5 Florida and it's hard to imagine Mark Richt and company maintaining their lofty perch.

  • Tiger Woods should be player of the year on the PGA Tour, period. Four wins including a one-legged U.S. Open win, a 2nd place finish at the Masters and a 5th at the WGC-CA Championship is all the proof you need.

    Apologies to back-to-back major winner Padraig Harrington, but Woods still tops the tour money list by over $1 million with $5.75 million in earnings, and despite not playing since June would enter this week's FedEx Cup Playoff opener as the top seed.

    Aside from a 5th place finish at the Masters, Harrington's best showing in a tournament with Woods in the field was a 17th place finish in the WGC Accenture Match Play tournament.

    I rest his case.

  • As for my beloved San Francisco 49ers, it's looking like journeyman quarterback J.T. O'Sullivan will be the opening day starter for new offensive coordinator Mike Martz.

    This decision baffles me as I had a chance to see first hand just how dreadfully awful O'Sullivan (they're calling him JTO, of course) really is at Vikings training camp in 2006. That team broke camp with Brad Johnson as the starter, Mike McMahon as the backup and a rookie Tarvaris Jackson as the third-stringer. In other words, they just said no to JTO.

    Suddenly the man deemed not worthy enough to hold a clipboard in front of Mike McMahon has seemingly supplanted former No. 1 overall pick Alex Smith. Smith has never really had a chance in my opinion, as Martz is now his fourth different offensive coordinator in his four years as a pro.

    Niner fans have no fear however, we'll soon get to hear these words again:

    With the first pick in the 2009 NFL Draft, the San Francisco 49ers select...

    So that should be fun.

  • Lastly, I feel compelled to mention that former Vikings' practice squad wide receiver Jason Carter is just about assured of making the opening day roster for the Carolina Panthers and thanks to a few key injuries he should see significant playing time right out of the box.

    He was already turning heads at Panthers camp and now it looks like his opportunity has finally arrived. I've long been a fan of the versatile Carter who I'm convinced could have helped the Vikings in the passing game from day one but never got a real shot.

    Stay tuned for an update on his progress and a possible Q&A session with the man himself.

Friday, August 8, 2008

The Reboot

Hello all. As you've probably noticed, the frequency with which I am posting here at Quick Hits... has slowed considerably in the past month or so.

That is going to end soon because I will be rolling out a whole new batch of content on a much more normal basis very soon. Keep an eye out for several new features that, if they seem to be popular, may become weekly ones.

As always, I really enjoy hearing what people have to say about what I write. So I'd ask that as the new stuff starts to come out that you take a quick second to leave me a comment no matter how long or short it may be.

Lastly, you can now subscribe to Quick Hits... by using the handy little widget on the side of the page.

Thanks and come back soon.