In this week's edition of MMQB Goes to Summer Camp:
• The Texans back
• At least one NFL star knows exactly how lucky he is to have the life he has.
• I'm not sure the Bucs have any players who shave yet. Well,
• The Most Valuable Coach on the Chicago staff this year? Not
On with the show.
ST. CHARLES, Mo. -- On the Rams sideline Saturday night, during the club's first scrimmage of the summer, at woody Lindenwood University, all eyes were, of course, on rookie quarterback Sam Bradford, the first pick of the 2010 draft. "What's uncanny,'' said GM
A few minutes later, pressured, Bradford let one fly 45 yards downfield on a corner route to wideout
You have to have a little perspective over what happened here Saturday night. On the first throw of third-string quarterback
What I'd thought about Bradford in draft prep was that he was highly accurate, but a robo-QB. Watching him at Oklahoma, you'd see Bradford and his receivers and backs stare at the sidelines for the formation and play-call. Once they got it, they'd all jump to the line and snap the ball. Bradford didn't have to read much, if anything. He'd have a prescribed 1-2 progression to read and usually go to his first option. How would that translate to the NFL?
I still worry. A scrimmage where the quarterback is untouched and knows he's not going to get rapped around is no time to find out if a college phenom is the long-term answer. "I don't think the fact he's done it differently in college is setting him back,'' coach
Walking off the Lindenwood field afterward (to the shrieks of every autograph-seeking kid within three miles), Bradford said he felt a little confused a few days ago with all that was being thrown at him during the offensive installation. "But I felt really comfortable tonight,'' he said. "The more second-nature it becomes, the more comfortable I'll be.''
Bradford said his surgically repaired right shoulder hasn't bothered him at camp. He said he was very happy with his accuracy in camp. Quarterbacks in the NFL need lots of traits to succeed, but none is more important than that last one -- accuracy. At the base of it all, that's why
"So far he's been the perfect package,'' Bartell said. Key words: so far. But it's easy to be optimistic about the Rams for the first time in a while, watching this kid.
HOUSTON -- The owner of the Houston Texans,
The NFL claims Cushing did test positive last September, and after a lengthy appeals process banned him for the first four games of the 2011 season. The NFL has been very clear about the rules of its program covering performance-enhancing substances, and I'd be surprised if the four-game ban would be adjusted by Goodell, regardless of McNair's arguments.
In an interview here Friday, Cushing said he thinks he knows why he tested positive for elevated levels of hCG. "Everything points to that overtrained athlete syndrome,'' Cushing said, walking back to the Texans' locker room after their afternoon practice. "I'm pretty sure it is. I'm pretty positive. I didn't take anything. It's not a tainted supplement. So all roads lead to that.''
The syndrome results from athletes training intensely for a long period, with the possibility of a testosterone imbalance resulting when an athlete stops training. I must stress the word "possibility,'' because no player in the history of the NFL substance-abuse program before Cushing tested positive for the higher level of hCG. The widespread belief in NFL circles was that a player who tests positive for hCG would be a steroid user trying to re-start regular testosterone production after it has been interrupted in a cycle of steroid use.
Rumors of steroid use have dogged Cushing since his high-school days in New Jersey, and followed him to USC. Despite the evidence against him, Cushing has denied that he took hCG. And Friday, his employer agreed.
"He shows no sign of ever having been on steroids,'' McNair said. "His weight hasn't changed appreciably since he's been with us. I've looked into it pretty thoroughly, and I haven't found anything that would lead me to believe that he has ever taken a performance-enhancing drug.''
Cushing said he is "well aware'' that the American public probably won't believe this claim. I think most people will view it as a dog-ate-my-homework defense. "It's tough when you know what kind of discipline you have, and what kind of work ethic you have, and the whole world doesn't believe you, and is against you. It's frustrating. But I know that the quickest way to answer all of this is by production on the field,'' Cushing said.
In other words, he needs to keep testing clean for any PEDs, and he needs to play well for the public to think he's playing clean. "The funny part -- well, not funny, really -- is that my worst month playing football last year was September, and that's when I tested positive. I had five or six tests after that. All negative,'' he said.
On Friday, Cushing sounded like he was resigned to playing a 12-game season and being the best player he could be for those 12.
"There is no question in my mind I'll be a better football player than I was last season,' he said. "I'm going into my second year. The plays I'm making on the practice field this year compared to last year, I'm so much more of a well-rounded football player than I was.''
I expect Cushing to come back possessed. We all do. Whether there's anything to this latest wrinkle is something I'll be following up on in the coming days, but the only way fans will look at Cushing as a great player is if he stays clean. For years..
SAN DIEGO -- The most efficient kicker in NFL history is consulting with a sports psychologist for his failings. Nate Kaeding, who had previously seen a mental-health professional to help with his mindset and found it helpful, has seen the guy "about six'' times this offseason, he told me, to help him deal with the aftermath of a head-case performance in the Chargers' three-point divisional playoff loss to the Jets at home Jan. 17.
Kaeding went 0-for-3, missing from 36 (wide left), 57 (short), and 40 (wide right). The last kick was almost embarrassing. He punched the ball, instead of swinging his leg through it naturally, and it sailed way to the right. It was the classic kick of a man pressing too hard instead of naturally doing what he's been trained to do.
The psychologist didn't give any deep dark advice. "Keep the game in perspective,'' Kaeding said the message was. "Don't make it bigger than it is. There's going to be peaks and valleys, and just accept them.''
Six sessions, though. That's not the garden-variety pat on the back accompanied by a you'll-be-fine message. Kaeding is bugged by this, and my guess is the team, with one more disastrous January, could look elsewhere for a kicker.
Last season wasn't the first time Kaeding had gotten tight in the playoffs. In a wild-card game in 2004, he missed a 40-yard field goal in overtime that would have beaten the Jets; the Jets won, 20-17. He missed 45- and 48-yarders in the 2007 playoffs. Not easy kicks, but good kickers in the league have to make them.
Contrasting his playoff stat line with his regular-season one:
I asked Kaeding: Will there be a hangover this year?
"I don't know,'' he said. "I can't kick a playoff field goal in August, or October.''
A kicker has to be like a cornerback. Give up a long completion, corners are told, and you've just got to move on blindly to the next snap. Same with kickers, who can't carry one miss into the next kick. The problem against the Jets, Kaeding said, was carrying over the first miss, and you can tell, standing here on the field of the Chargers' practice facility, that it still bugs him.
"Mentally, I wasn't able to flush that first kick,'' he said. "As a kicker, you know you're going to miss. What disappoints me is not being able to put that one behind me.'' The second one was a long prayer. No harm, no foul. But the third one, in a tight game, was inexcusable.
"I was completely blindsided by that,'' he said. "Shame on me for ever thinking I've got this game figured out. I just didn't approach that kick right.''
And the fact that Kaeding can't make it right today or tomorrow is probably the worst part. It's going to eat at him until January, and there won't be a player in the NFL with more pressure on him entering the playoffs (if the Chargers make it) than Kaeding.
"Quite honestly, it still bugs the crap out of me,'' he said.
Roger Goodell spent three days with John Madden, now a league consultant, on the Madden bus, riding to five NFL camps last week. "We talked football nonstop,'' Goodell told me. Except for the stop at the rest area on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, where the bus stopped just before closing time for dinner at the little food court there. Goodell said there was a Chili's in the food court, and they went to order something, but because of it being close to closing time, everything on the menu wasn't available.
"I'll just take some chili, then,'' Madden told the kid at the counter.
"I'm sorry,'' the kid said. "We don't have that.''
Without a pause, Madden said: "Am I on Candid Camera?''
(I just realized a lot of you don't know what "Candid Camera'' is. Well, you'll have to google it. It was a funny show back when mastodons roamed the earth.)
Goodell and Madden got perspectives from players and coaches on, among other things, the 18-game-schedule proposal, the new player safety initiatives (about new helmets and the prospect of making pads mandatory), and what to do about the program of never-ending offseason workouts that have evolved in the league. "Clearly there's a cultural change going on,'' Goodell said, referring to the players' increasing awareness of the long-term effects of head injuries.
But Goodell was also challenged on his trip to camps when he met with players, with no coaches or front-office types in the room. This happened not only on this five-team trip, but on his visit to Chiefs' camp in St. Joseph, Mo., where one source said veteran guard
Goodell figured that was coming. It'll be coming a lot over the next year. "I said at the beginning of these sessions that there were a lot of things I couldn't address because we're in negotiations,'' Goodell said. "Overall, it was very valuable. I got to hear from players on a variety of issues.''
Was it awkward or chilly in those rooms? "No, not to me,'' he said. "I was comfortable. I wanted to get a real perspective, and I think I did.''
On my visits over the past two weeks, I've tried to ask players, owners and front-office people their view of the negotiations and whether they feel we're headed for peace or war. The view is overwhelmingly negative. I covered the 1987 strike, and my recollection is that a year before that three-game strike, there wasn't the rancor or negativity about the outcome of the talks. Things can change, of course, but owners and GMs, in particular, see some gaps that seem too hard to bridge without a sea-change of thought by one side or the other. The clear majority of those paying attention expect a lockout of the players next March.
TAMPA -- I always got the impression that the
When Dungy took the Bucs' coaching job in 1996, he and GM
Morris and GM
Six hundred pounds of defensive linemen --
The Tampa Bay management is getting creamed locally for not spending money -- the prevailing theory is that the massive financial problem of the Glazers, who own the Bucs, with British football power Manchester United is siphoning money from the operation of the Bucs -- but I get the strong impression Tampa Bay wouldn't have spent in free agency this year anyway. "We want to build a team through the draft and keep it intact,'' Dominik said. "Like Tony said when he coached: 'I don't want a revolving door. I want to show loyalty to the guys we brought in and build a team the right way.' That's the way Raheem and I are operating now. Now, with two draft classes, I think we're on our way.''
I asked Dungy if he thought the two situations --Tampa in 1996 and Tampa in 2010 -- were comparable.
"I do,'' he said. "We got a lot of criticism back then with our plan at first, because we lost five in a row at the start, and eight of our first nine. They wanted us to bench the quarterback and make all kinds of changes. I read some of the same criticisms now -- the fans want to win now, which all fans do. If they're patient, I think it's going to pay off. I like the guys they've drafted.''
Dungy learned this from
The first Dungy team went 6-10, the second 10-6. A period of good football was born. These Bucs have to be patient, the way I see it. There's no guarantee this rebuilding job with work, but there's no other way for them to win, at least right now.
SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Always wanted to ask one of the best young tight ends in the game how he felt about being shown up/embarrassed/clapped in the face by his new coach,
"Best thing that ever happened to me in my life,'' Davis told me. "Woke me up. I was all about Vernon, not about the team.''
Davis also revealed Singletary told him if he wanted to fight, that was fine with him. They'd fight. "He pushed me to the edge,'' said Davis. "I needed that. When you're a first-round pick, and everyone's telling you how great you are, sometimes you need a guy to tell you that football's a team game. Here he is, one of the greatest players ever. So I had to change. Now, I'm all in.''
Davis caught 103 balls in his first three seasons, including that troubled third year, with nine touchdowns. Last year, he caught 78 passes with 13 touchdowns, most in the league for a tight end. When I asked Singletary about Davis, he smiled. "One of the most misconstrued guys in the league,'' Singletary said. "He raises the level in practice every day. He raises the work ethic. He's done everything I've asked.''
I've always thought this about the relationship between players and coaches: Most often, a player's going to respect a man who's been in the same arena more than one who hasn't. I don't think
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. -- All off-season, since
So the skeptics of a growing fandom made the two-hour drive up from Phoenix, from the 102-degree dusks, to northern Arizona and the more tolerable climes of 7,000 feet. It's beautiful here, for those who haven't found Flagstaff -- a vivid blue sky, pine trees dotting the hills around the practice fields at Northern Arizona University (home of the Lumberjacks and, for some reason, a little domed stadium), and the pretty San Francisco Peaks and Mount Elden just to the north of the fields. It's here that Leinart is trying to win over a team that loved Warner.
Watching Leinart practice, the one thing that's apparent is he doesn't have the accuracy Warner did. Warner was a 65-percent passer in his five Arizona seasons; Leinart, in 29 career games, has completed 57 percent. Watching him last Thursday, I saw him throw a couple in a row slightly behind
We'll see. Leinart will get more than a little rope here, and he deserves it. "My time has come,'' he said, walking off the field after practice. "I'm going to play smart. I'm going to play efficient. I understand why people are skeptical of us. A lot of that's on me. I feel so much more ready than when I first came in the league. All quarterbacks want to play, but there's something to sitting for a couple of years and thinking, 'What would I do there?' I know watching Kurt and thinking about the game was good for me.'' We'll see how good in a relatively friendly September schedule (at St. Louis, at Atlanta, Oakland), against no killer pass-rushes.
BOURBONNAIS, Ill. -- I left 15 minutes to get the three miles from my Fairfield Inn to Olivet Nazarene University for the Bears' Sunday night practice. Big mistake. Should have left 45. Lines of cars near campus, as always. Chicagoland loves its Bears like few other markets love teams. And its been clear, from the tenor of talk radio and the smart beat writers here and remembering last season, that the most important single thing to vault the Bears into playoff contention with the hated Packers and Vikings is fixing the offensive line. The sexy story lines have been the
"Big year, Tice!'' one fan yells as the team stretches.
There's only one guy on the line no one has to worry about -- Kreutz, returning from an Achilles injury that robbed him of strength last year.
How Tice brings this group together, and how he fixes their errors weekly, will go a long way toward determining whether the Bears can contend. On this night, Williams looked feisty going after Peppers, with good quickness pushing him wide. But the group, obviously, is a work in progress.
"We're up and down every day,'' Tice said on the field after practice. "But I learned from some good coaches --
I asked him if he felt the pressure of the Ditka crowd sure to let him know if his line isn't playing well. "I don't feel it at all,'' he said. "I'm having fun.'' For now.
Well, I missed the Sunday night preseason opener because of Bears practice. But reading about it and watching the highlights, there's one headline, and it has nothing to do with
"I'm here to tell you that the fear of failure is the engine that has driven me throughout my entire life. It flies in the faces of all these sports psychologists who say you have to let go of your fears to be successful and that negative thoughts will diminish performance. But not wanting to disappoint my parents, and later my coaches, teammates and fans, is what pushed me to be successful ... The reason nobody caught me from behind is because I ran scared. People are always surprised how insecure I was. But I was always in search of that perfect game, and I never got it. Even if I caught 10 of 12 passes, or two or three touchdowns in the Super Bowl, I would dwell on the one pass I dropped ... If I have one single regret about my career standing here today, it's that I never took the time to enjoy it.''
I don't know about you, but I found that poignant, and I think a little sad.
"They're here tonight, and I've got to tell you, that's about the highest compliment I've ever been paid in my life.''
That's the memorable moment of the weekend. I've never seen or heard of an entire team of 80 players -- some who don't know
"My goal is to be the greatest coach of all time.''
We were in his office at the 49ers training facility, and I asked him about what was on the wall behind his desk -- a list of every Hall of Fame coach in NFL history -- and why he had it there. Basically, he has it there to remind him how far he has to go to get to his goal.
Now, you can laugh at or criticize Singletary (career record: 13-12), entering his second full season as a head coach, for an outlandish quote. Not me. What's wrong with having a goal to be the best at something and let everyone know that's what you're striving for?
"I kicked two calls in the fourth quarter and I impacted the game, and as an official you never want to do that. It left me with a lot of sleepless nights and I think about it constantly. I'll go to my grave wishing that I'd been better.''
"Tweeting and blogging. Five years ago that would have sounded dirty."
-- Kent Somers, Cardinals beat man for the Arizona Republic, asked by his wife one night last week what he was doing at Cards training camp in Flagstaff, Ariz.
This Week's Sign of the Waning Influence of the Once-National Pastime: None of the five athletic sons of
The 49ers drafted Penn State linebacker
Makes me wonder if
On consecutive days late in the week, I visited Cardinals camp and Texans camp. In Arizona,
So I wondered: Who would I take right now if I were building a team and needed a wide receiver? And I looked at the numbers. Let's check.
Let's start with the ages: Johnson is 29. Fitzgerald turns 27 Aug. 31.
I like Johnson; who wouldn't? But Fitzgerald is two years younger. He has already had the best playoff season (arguably) by a receiver ever, two years ago. And he's been a more prolific scorer. Give me Fitzgerald.
This may give you some idea of the interest in the Dallas Cowboys. In the first 10 days of training camp, the Cowboys' PR staff set up 63 live interviews featuring 27 players at night, for five Dallas TV stations and three in San Antonio.
Before I get to my travel note, "Catwoman in Row 5,'' how's this for a miracle-of-modern-travel itinerary:
Now, I can't pack much more into two days than that.
On to the Catwoman note. I had the aisle seat in a full three-seat row on the flight from Tampa to New York, and next to me was a pleasant woman, I'd say about 50, in a T-shirt and shorts. She noticed I had a photo of my dog, Bailey, looking posture-perfect, well-groomed and very obedient as the wallpaper on the desktop of my laptop.
"What a beautiful dog!'' she exclaimed. "You are so lucky!''
"Thank you,'' I said. "Yeah, she's a great dog. Almost 11 now.''
"I'm a cat person,'' she said.
"Oh,'' I said. "Cats are good.''
"Twenty,'' I said. "Wow. That's amazing. She must be very healthy.''
"Well, no,'' she said. "She's very overweight. I spoil her. I never had kids, and she's my baby. She's got diabetes and a bunch of other things we have to give her medicine for. But I love her so much. My husband and I, I don't know what we'd do without her. We just love cats. I live paycheck to paycheck, but every month I've got money automatically withdrawn for the cats -- the ASPCA, animal shelters, you know.''
"Oh,'' I said. "That's nice.''
"You want to see her?'' she said.
Not really. "Sure,'' I said, anticipating a wallet photo or a picture on the cell phone.
The woman angled her body toward me and lifted her left leg and twisted it so I could see the outside of her calf. From just below the kneecap to just above the ankle was a perfectly tattooed image of her cat's orange-and-brown round face with dark, piercing eyes. You couldn't see any leg there, just cat -- the tattoo enveloped the outside of her calf.
"I really love her,'' she said wistfully, putting her leg away.
So I see.
Flight Attendant of the Week: The dude on the Continental ExpressJet flight from Houston to Kansas City Friday night got on the PA and, in the midst of giving his spiel on safety and other things, said: "As soon as the ground crew finishes ripping the handles off your bag and tearing them to bits, we'll be on our way to Kansas City.''
No one laughed but me.
Tim set out to write a book about the different schemes and facets of the game we see every week but may not understand. The Tampa 2, for instance. Dick LeBeau's Zone Blitz.
"In 2006,'' Layden said, "I wrote a piece for SI on the Cover Two. But instead of just interviewing people and breaking down the workings of the defense, I decided to take a shot at profiling the people who created and evolved it. In that case, it was
Tim gives a timeline of the spread, starting with a frustrated coach in Middletown, Ohio, in the late fifties. This coach,
The great thing about this book, in my opinion, is it teaches us the geniuses of football didn't start with
"I been drinking a lot of coconut water lately it's been helping not cramp up during camp my nfl buddies get on that coconut water asap''
Barring coming to my senses, as penance for an exaggerated piece of idiocy on Twitter last winter, I'm running the 13.1-mile New Hampshire Half-Marathon in Bristol, N.H., 100 miles north of Boston, on Saturday, Oct. 2 at 9 a.m. (Recapping: When
I'm going to run the race for charity -- two charities, actually. And you're going to vote on which charities will benefit from me making the run. Here's how it'll work: I've chosen five causes (some that you have suggested, and two that I have a personal interest in). Between now and noon Eastern time Tuesday, send me a message on Twitter (
The five charities you can choose from (again, vote for two):
This Oklahoma-based hunger-prevention organization is trying to reach 200,000 families by the end of 2010. On Sunday, when I asked Ocho, he said this is the group he preferred to help. Many of you suggested that since Ocho was right and I was wrong, I should feature a charity he prefers. This is a good one.
Identifies some of the most indigent former players, the players who sacrificed their bodies and minds and made a path to the multi-billion-dollar game that exists today, and helps them with bills and medical and mental-health issues.
I wanted to choose one project to help those on the Gulf Coast recover from the catastrophes of the past five years, and I chose this one because of its continued efficiency in getting the important work done. In the five years since Katrina, Habitat has partnered in the building of 2,219 single-family homes. The work goes on.
This group helps the most serious of the wounded from the front lines of the battlefields transition from active duty military back to civilian society.
Several players in the league, among them Washington's
I did a Five For Fighting thing with the USO last year, asking for $5 per person for our troops, and you raised $204,000 for portable USO recreation centers for the troops in Afghanistan. I have to think of a clever title for this one (suggestions welcome), but I'm going to ask for donations of $10, to be split equally between the two charities. We'll figure the logistics and mechanics of how you can contribute beginning next week.
If I finish the 13.1-mile run, no matter the time, I will donate $1,000 to each of the charities. If I do not finish the run, no matter the reason, I will donate $2,000 to each charity.
As U2 might say, "MO-TIH-VA-SHUN.''
There is a third element to this. Prizes. Anyone who contributes will be eligible to win one of three prizes -- which I'm going to have to figure out in the coming days.
So follow me on Twitter, send me your vote by noon ET Tuesday (one vote per Twitter account -- we can't have poor
1. I think I disagree with Buffalo GM
It was in the best interests of Schobel that the Bills released him; it gives a 32-year-old defensive end a chance to play for a winner, or to play for a team closer to his home near Houston. But it was not in Buffalo's best interests to release a guy, instead of waiting until a team in camp got desperate for an eight- to 12-sack player and would pay a draft choice to get him.
2. I think there's a black cloud over the Broncos.
3. I think I have a couple of book notes:
a. I think
Most good coaches in the NFL don't treat every player the same. Dungy was big on that. He used
Early in Dungy's Colts' coaching tenure, he sidled up to Harrison at practice the week of a game and said a certain cornerback was really looking forward to covering him, and he chuckled, and he asked Harrison how he was going to respond. Later that day, Harrison sought Dungy out. With a serious look on his face, Harrison said, "Coach, you don't know me very well, but I do not joke about my game.'' Dungy was stunned. But that taught him something. When he had a message for Harrison, he delivered it in a plain brown wrapper. Nothing fancy. Nothing funny.
"As a coach, your job is not to seem like you're in charge all the time,'' Dungy said. "Your job is to get the best out of everyone. With some guys, you might need to go ballistic on them to get their attention. With Marvin, if you went ballistic on him, you'd lose him.''
Dungy always seemed like a great leader, yet he was the quietest man in the room. That way works too -- if the group's going to respect you.
b. On Sunday's
4. I think, if you're in a 12-team fantasy league,
5. I think I think one of the most improved position groups in the league could be the Kansas City backfield.
The Chiefs were interested in San Diego restricted free agent
McCluster has been fabulous in early Chiefs practices, lining up in the backfield, in the slot and at receiver. Jones has been the strong-work ethic guy the Chiefs knew they were buying and will be a good model for Charles. It's not unusual to see Jones, after a two-hour-long practice in the western Missouri heat, going to the Chiefs' weight room to lift for an hour. I don't know what this all will translate to come opening night against San Diego Sept. 13 -- coach
6. I think
7. I think I saw an awful lot of wobbly throws by
8. I think one of the most interesting things I have seen in my tour of (so far) 12 camps is the sight of rookie pass-rusher
The team has been pleasantly surprised with Schofield's rehab and his range of motion in the injured knee, and Schofield is determined to play in 2010 at any cost. Arizona has him on the non-football injury list, meaning he can sit and continue to heal for the first six weeks of the season; then the team will have until Week 12 to determine whether to activate him this year.
"My mindset is that I will be back and ready to play," Schofield said. "I won't come back unless I feel I'm totally myself. The last thing I want to do is come back and play soft." I asked him if he looks back on the Senior Bowl practice accident with any regret, seeing as it probably cost him about $1.8 million in salary and likely-to-be-earned bonuses over four years, compared to a mid-second-round pick.
"It's football," he said, shrugging. "Accidents happen. I actually look at it this way. I tore my ACL, there was a lot of doubt about me, and I still got drafted, and I got drafted by a team that's a really good fit for me. I get to learn from two guys who have had great careers at linebacker in this league --
9. I think these are my early odds on the 2011 Hall class:
When the five-man Seniors Committee meets later this month to determine the two other candidates to be considered by the 44 voters next February, the names with the most traction would appear to be one at linebacker --
10. I think these are my non-football thoughts of the week:
a. Eighteen over in a tournament he owns ... Time to take some time, Tiger.
b. Great to meet you in Flagstaff the other day,
c. Anyone have any idea how incredibly dangerous it is to be outdoors in Russia right now? The smog, forest fires and intense heat in some areas mean that if you are outside for one hour, it's the equivalent of smoking 1-2 packs of cigarettes.
e. Coffeenerdness: Guy in an Army camouflage outfit comes up to me at the Houston airport Friday night and I expect him to ask, "How's my team gonna do this year?'' Instead, he says, "What's your drink at Starbucks?''
f. What can I say, other than,
g. Is it possible that a young Toronto catcher,
i. While we're praising writers, props to