Each Friday, we'll feature a collection of matchups and come up with a verdict. Unfortunately, this week I had to leave out "Rewatching Jimmy Traina's Impromptu Cubicle Tour vs. Being Productive," but just barely.

Is there really anyone out there (other than maybe Yankees fans) who doesn't want John Smoltz to succeed when he makes his first start with the Red Sox next week? He's been in the major leagues for more than 20 years, has been a starting ace and a lockdown closer, and even had a great post-Tommy John surgery Baseball Tonight run a few years ago.

Sure, he looks less like a Hall of Fame pitcher than he does an insurance claims adjuster or a random uncle, but that's part of the Smoltz Charm. He also seems like a guy you could have an intelligent conversation with over a couple of beers.

The Verdict: He's got one more year in him. Sorry, Yankees fans.

After watching Lange, a veteran co-host of The Howard Stern Show, take over the premiere of Joe Buck Live, you may have thought he went overboard and was unnecessarily crass, but it's not like HBO Sports merely booked Lange without knowing his sensibilities.

More telling than the comedian's jokes at the expense of the Dallas Cowboys and Buck himself was Buck's inability to come back at Lange and hold his ground. He backed down while appearing to not want to seemingly stoop to Lange's level, which, while over the top, made the show pretty entertaining.

The Verdict: They should both just stick to what they do best. In Lange's case, it's as a personality on a show that perfectly suits him (in a good way). In Buck's case, it's not raising his energy to match the action in highly excitable baseball and football games.

After winning his record 10th championship, Jackson really has no reason to come back. He passed Red Auerbach, he helped Kobe get that elusive fourth ring -- and he did it all from the most strangely intimidating bench seat in the NBA.

That said, Jackson has one year left on his Lakers contract, and the allure of further separating himself from Auerbach, keeping the boss' VP daughter happy and doin' enough work with Kobe to get him into Jordan territory may be too much to pass up.

The Verdict: He comes back and sits on the Throne o' Zen for one last season. It isn't clear what his true reason will be, but Jeannie Buss is no less than 37 percent responsible.

The Blue Jays' Halladay has been typically unhittable on his way to a 10-1 record, while Ibañez has been a more-than-pleasant surprise, hitting 22 homers and knocking in 59 runs for the Phillies.

Unfortunately for their respective teams, the fibers of their adductor muscles decided to slightly tear. It almost sounded like I didn't just now look up the official medical definitions of "groin" and "strain," doesn't it?

The Verdict: It's a time-tested rule: Strained groins always win out.

With the NBA draft approaching, Jennings called out Rubio for being "all hype." This one doesn't seem quite fair. Rubio is a sensational Spanish point guard who, at 17, nearly lead the Spanish national team past the NBA's best at the Beijing Olympics. Meanwhile, Jennings, a former Arizona recruit, took his game overseas and dominated to the tune of 5.5 points in 17 minutes.

The Verdict: To be fair, Jennings (sans his high-top fade haircut) quickly took back his statement and explained it away as his confidence getting the best of him. In any case, this round unanimously goes to Rubio and his absurd YouTube mixtape.

With their ratings going back and forth since Conan started a few weeks ago, the late-night race became a lot more interesting, and not just because of which show had more viewers. For the first time since the early '90s, there are two funny late-night hosts from which to choose.

On one hand, the edge could go to Conan because he's younger and willing to take more chances with his bits -- both in the studio and out in L.A.. On the other hand, Letterman is as good as ever, but just in a phase of his career in which he seems to embrace being an elder statesman who truly doesn't care what most people think of him.

The Verdict: Conan, but barely. He's pulling out everything he's got to establish a bigger audience early. Letterman's still worth a spot on the DVR, especially if he's featuring one of his go-to guests (Bruce Willis, Julia Roberts, Marv Albert, etc.). On a side note, it's one of the great reliefs in life to realize that you're not related to or have any sort of personal connections with any of these people.

Dan Rubenstein hosts and produces the SI Tour Guy video series for SI.com and co-hosts The Solid Verbal college football podcast with SI.com's Ty Hildenbrandt. He can be reached at sitourguy@gmail.com.

SI Apps
We've Got Apps Too
Get expert analysis, unrivaled access, and the award-winning storytelling only SI can provide - from Peter King, Tom Verducci, Lee Jenkins, Seth Davis, and more - delivered straight to you, along with up-to-the-minute news and live scores.