TONY COX, host:
I'm Tony Cox, and this is News & Notes. Thursday is our day for a look at the world of sports. And this week, Manny's back in Dodger blue, T.O. shuffles off to Buffalo, and L.T. stays put in So Cal(ph). Plus, let the madness begin. It is the biggest time of year in college basketball as the championship tournament gets underway. And here to help me sort all of this out for our sports bloggers' Roundtable, we have Chad Brown who writes about sports at Alpha Blog Sports. We also have Terrance Harris who is a sports writer and who blogs for the Houston Chronicle. Gentlemen, nice to have you back.
Mr. CHAD BROWN (Blogger, Alpha Blog Sports): Hey, how's it going?
Mr. TERRANCE HARRIS (Blogger, Houston Chronicle): Good to be here.
COX: Let's talk about March Madness first. The biggest news of the week it's tournament time in college basketball. It's the time when we all look closely at the brackets and pick our teams. So Terrance, I'm going to come to you first because we have a number of teams that are near the top - Connecticut, Pittsburgh, North Carolina, Duke, Memphis, Oklahoma, Louisville, and a couple of others that I'm probably leaving out. What do you think the seeding is going to look like for the tournament this time?
Mr. HARRIS: Well, in my opinion, I mean, you know, you have to put Yukon in there, you have to put Pitt. I mean like everyone is talking about maybe three teams from Pitt being number ones. I don't see that. But I think the big East has been, you know, has been good enough to warrant two but not three. Then, I also, I like North Carolina, also I like Oklahoma, and maybe Memphis for that fourth number one seat.
COX: What do you say, Chad?
Mr. BROWN: I like North Carolina, I like Pittsburgh, either Connecticut or Louisville for third, and possibly Memphis for fourth.
COX: How important, and this is one of the things that I don't know if people who follow college basketball have an answer to this necessarily, but how important are the seeds? I would think that it would help you, A, perhaps get in a region that's closer to home and B, just gives you some easier competition at the very beginning of the tournament. Would you agree with that, Chad?
Mr. BROWN: Yeah, I think so. I think the seeds are very important in terms of getting in it all depends on the match up. But as far as getting in you want to get to the high seat possible like you said because it dictates the best possible match up. Now once the ball is tossed it's anybody's game. But match ups - match ups are important I think.
COX: You know, they have the play in game for the 65 - the team goes as number 64 and the one that doesn't make it obviously ends up in the NIT. NIT still a relevant place to play if you're not making it into the big dance, do you think, Terrance?
Mr. HARRIS: Oh, I think so. It depends on what you're looking on. I mean, I think that, you know, a lot of times that tournament is good. If you have a team that probably not really good enough to go far of the tournament but as a young team that you want to get prepared, you know, for the tournament the next year there's a great preparation to, I mean, given that atmosphere that one and done kind of, you know, that one and done type of feeling. But I mean it really has - I mean, I think since the NCAA kind of took over the NIT I think that it really has kind of lost its luster-some.
COX: Yeah. And, you know, it goes both ways because a team like Davidson, who was a Cinderella team at the tournament last year, may end up. In fact, they've already been invited to the NIT and I heard that Stephen Curry say they're not happy about it but at least they're applying some place in poll season. All right, let's go on to talk about football because the biggest news in football this week has to do with who's going and who is staying. And at the top of that list is former Dallas Cowboy none other than - tadaa - wide receiver Terrell Owens signing with the Buffalo Bills this week. So Chad, any team is better than no team. I get that. But is this a good move for T.O.?
Mr. BROWN: I actually think it is a good move for T.O. because he's going to a team that needs (unintelligible) let's face it, the Bills have been 79 for three consecutive years and they need the help. They need the help. I think T.O. can help them. If you look at his history, he's done very well in year one. It's after that when the quarterback needs to go find a good psychiatrist.
(Soundbite of laughter)
Mr. BROWN: But - so I think - I think this is a good - I think this is a good match up for both teams. I mean, being in New York and following the Jets I don't like it because first, we deal with Randy now with T.O. But…
COX: Well, you know, what I'm going to…
Mr. BROWN: I think it was a good move though.
COX: I was going to ask Terrance what do you think? If your Trent Edwards, quarterback for Buffalo, you know, are you happy or are you worried about having T.O. as a downfield target?
Mr. HARRIS: Well, I'm worried because I know what's going to happen eventually, I mean, and as the minute - I mean, now I'm under constant pressure to get this guy the ball constantly and, I mean, in the minute that don't give get in the ball - don't get him - get it to him enough, I going to hear about it. I mean, it going to become an event, it's going to become pressure on me, like my man just said, I mean, you know, you going to need that psychiatrist in a minute. Talking to this is a bad marriage for everybody. I think this is a bad idea, you know, on everyone's end. If nothing else, what would - what maybe Rosenhaus and TO should have done is just waited until the season started and then figured out what team are the best teams might - may have suffered injury and may need someone, but he should've pick the spot, I think, a little bit better. He's going nowhere with Buffalo. This is - this is a powder keg waiting to explode.
COX: You know, it's a...
Mr. BROWN: I would agree. I would agree. I would agree except it's a one-year deal. That's the only thing I think - it works on both sides' favor. That's the only thing...
COX: Well, you know, there's a flip side to all of this because T.O. certainly brings drama with him wherever he has been so far. And that may be a headache for you if you're in the locker room with him, but it could be interesting if you're in the seats or you're watching on television. Isn't that good for the team in that regard? Chad?
Mr. BROWN: Yeah, I think it is good for the team. I mean, I can tell you from experience. I was out with a bunch of friends of mine who were Bills fans. And the minute the news started traveling, I mean, people were reacting, no, say - you - don't be kidding. I mean, you would have thought that somebody had died in their family. They told me that they signed with - that T.O. signed - I think the fans are going to love it at first but then again, you have to remember, these are fans who a decade ago went to four consecutive Super Bowls. So…
COX: But they lost.
Mr. BROWN: I know. I know.
Mr. BROWN: But still the main thing is - they did lose.
COX: Right, and maybe if he gets in the end zone and starts catching balls, that'll be a good thing for - everybody will be happy. Now on other hand, let's come across the country. LaDainian Tomlinson is staying with the San Diego Chargers and he has agreed to a renegotiated deal that gives the team some salary cap relief. Terrance, there were problems between him and the team, some injuries, some front office issues and yet he stayed. Why do you think he stayed?
Mr. HARRIS: Well, I think LaDainian is - because I know him pretty well. I mean, I think he's very comfortable out there. I mean, you know, he's doing a life out there. You know, he's very involved in that community. And I think he loves the Chargers organization. He was really hurt, I think, when he heard that they were discussing possibly trading him. I mean, that hurt LaDainian. I mean, and I think that's why he was willing to do - to take that unusual step of restructuring his contract and really taking less money, I mean, which is crazy in that NFL game where, you know, you - you know, there are no guaranteed contracts. You know, you suffer some type of catastrophic injury and you're done.
Mr. HARRIS: Your last paycheck is it, I mean, whatever you got in your signing bonus and you're out the door. So, I mean, you know, I just think that, you know, he - but I think that the thing that you go back to hear is he just - he really loves San Diego. I think this guy wants to retire as a Charger.
COX: Yeah. Well, he may be retiring from the bench if the end of last season is any indication because his playing time was cut severely.
Mr. HARRIS: Oh, man. Don't worry about that. Sprawls(ph) is good and he's an interesting player, but trust me, if you want the guy that's going to carry your team, then you better put the ball on LaDainian's hands.
Mr. BROWN: I would agree. I mean, even at a down year, he still have 1100 yards, you know, so…
COX: Right. All right. Well, let's talk about another person who's colorful in terms of his coming and going, Manny Ramirez, of course, back with the…
Mr. BROWN: Oh, boy.
COX: Dodgers after a long stand off, two-year $45 million deal. In fact, just today is his first day of playing with the Blue Crew during spring training. I guess the question is - this happens even as another of his former teammates in Boston has thrown him under the bus a guy that was a cancer in the locker room. Is Manny really a team changer like everybody says? He was only with the Dodgers a coupe of months last year, Chad.
Mr. BROWN: Again, well, I heard - I actually just heard about the cancer comment when I was walking in, so I guess I'm not really surprised. But I think he can be under the right circumstances, and I think with the Dodgers and with Tori(ph), I think if anybody can get something out of him, it'll be them. But is he a game changer? Is he a mercenary for hire like, oh, I guess, T.O. presents himself to be? I don't know but I think - I think for now this is a good fit, but again, I'm all the way over here on the East Coast. So, you probably have a better upfront look as I - than I do. But it'll be very interesting to watch.
COX: Well, Terrance is a little closer to us. He's in Houston. What do you say, Terrance?
Mr. HARRIS: All I can say is this. I bet you, you know, come next year in the playoffs they gonna love his bat. I mean, if you get what you heard, I mean, about what happens throughout the rest of the year and the chemistry thing and baseball, I mean, I think that can be sometimes overrated. I mean, if you haven't been in a baseball locker room, most of those guys don't even interact with each other, so I don't know. I mean, I've never really seen those guys - you know, the camaraderie really took place. So, I mean, I think that Manny will be fine. I mean, you know, he's a little bit of a liability out in the field, but, I mean, you got to let this guy bat and what he can do for you and what's he's proving he can do during the post season.
COX: You're absolutely right. He can't catch but he can certainly hit. There's no question…
Mr. BROWN: Well, he did help the Red Sox during the world championships…
COX: That's true.
Mr. HARRIS: Yes, sir.
COX: Alright, let's move on to another sport. Let's talk about the NBA. And before we get into the MVP conversation, let's talk about the ROY conversation, the rookie of the year. Interesting because it looks like to me, guys, O.J. Mayo, Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook, even Eric Gordon with the Clippers are the cream of that class at the moment. Would you agree or disageree?
Mr. HARRIS: I would wholeheartedly agree.
Mr. BROWN: Same here. I agree too.
COX: Which one do you think will come out on the other end?
Mr. BROWN: I'm guessing Mayo.
COX: You're thinking Mayo. Why, because of his scoring?
Mr. BROWN: Yeah. I do. I do. I think he's a good building block for a rebuilding or perpetually rebuilding Memphis Grizzlies' squad.
COX: What do you say, Terrance?
Mr. HARRIS: I would agree but I just had some - I like Derrick Rose so don't sleep on him. I mean, I like what he's done for Chicago and, you know, and the spark he's given them. I mean, I really do and I think that he's going to be one of the great, great players in this league in the next couple of years.
COX: I think he is too. And I'm biased. But I like Eric Gordon. I think if you are on a better team, he would be getting a lot more play than he's getting. That young man can definitely ball. Alright. Let's go from the rookie to the MVP. Interesting this week, gentlemen, both of the leading candidates for MVP in the NBA had MVP type games. LeBron came in to Staples and just killed the Clippers, and I don't have to tell you, Terrance, last night, Kobe Bryant came to your town and smacked the Houston Rockets around.
Mr. HARRIS: He put it on them. I mean, you know, I like both of these guys but I'm a Cleveland guy. I'm from Cleveland, Ohio so I'm LeBron all the way. I mean, and I just love what he's doing for Cleveland and how this guy continues to elevate his game every year. I mean, he doesn't have near the help that, you know, that Kobe has. I mean, yes, he hasn't Mohair(ph) this year which is helpful, but I mean, he's still the guy. I mean, he's still the guy that you have to worry about. He is the only guy on that team that can beat you. And then no one has yet - nobody can really stop him on a consistent basis.
COX: Well, you're absolutely right about that but there's only one other player in the league who is even close and arguably could be - it could be said that he's an edge above LeBron. Arguably now, what do you say about that, Chad - Kobe?
Mr. BROWN: Are you talking about Kobe?
COX: Of course.
Mr. BROWN: Well, I think Kobe is great and like he said, the performance last night - I mean, you saw them out in the first half, the second half, he just goes off. I mean, but I - I honestly, I'm with Terrance. I mean, I like LeBron too. I've been behind him ever since a few years ago in the playoffs, in game five, and when he scored all the team's points in overtime leading the Cavs to the Eastern Conference title, but, no, Kobe has done a great job. Hate him or love him, you know, you can't sleep on him. I mean, those every year where there the MVP could be split in half, I'd say ...
COX: Yeah, this might be the year.
Mr. BROWN: Yeah, it might be the year, but I'm still going with LeBron. He's no slight to Kobe.
COX: Yeah, and I understand that because either way you know the guys are deserving. Our time is up but I don't want to say goodbye without saying to you how much we've appreciated having you guys be a part of sports bloggers. I know that, Chad, you've been with us a lot longer. Terrance, you just kind of filling in for us a couple of times, but it's been good. We hope that you have found it worthwhile and spend something that was worth your time.
Mr. BROWN: It's been great.
Mr. HARRIS: I agree, it was good.
Mr. BROWN: It's been an unbelievable experience. I just like to thank everybody I know lay out in New York and all the other bloggers I had the chance to interact with. This is really - it's really been great.
COX: Well, like we say, this is - we'll get together again sometime in the future. I'm not sure where but we'll continue the discussion wherever we get. I may just call you on the telephone.
Mr. BROWN: You know where to find me.
COX: I know how to do that for sure. I appreciate both of you guys. Terrance Harris coming to us from the Houston Chronicle, where he is a sports writer and where he blogs, and Chad Brown writes for Alpha Blog Sports. He joined us from our NPR studios in New York City.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.