Bleacher Report Daily Radar: Hottest Sports Topics for Friday, September 30

Donald Wood@@Donald_WoodFeatured ColumnistSeptember 30, 2011

Bleacher Report Daily Radar: Hottest Sports Topics for Friday, September 30

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    Welcome to Bleacher Report's daily radar, your home for all the hottest sports topics being bantered about worldwide. 

    After one of the worst September collapses in MLB history, the Boston Red Sox management group will be on alert today as news swirls about possible firings for head coach Terry Francona and GM Theo Epstein.

    With all the trouble in Boston, the last thing fans there need to hear is that their beloved Celtics may not play one game this season.

    NBA commissioner David Stern is threatening to cancel the upcoming season.

    Basketball fans everywhere are terrified, but with the law degree we earned from watching the coverage of the NFL lockout, this is obviously a ploy that shouldn’t have fans worried just yet.

    In other news, the SEC is talking about adding even more teams to their powerful conference and further ruining the landscape of college athletics for the smaller schools.

    Good job, SEC.

    All that and much more ahead on Bleacher Report's Daily Radar!

Boston Red Sox Chopping Block

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    Heat Index: 14 out of 10 (Red Sox fans are unhappy and aren't afraid to show it)

    I may be wrong here, and I’m not, but didn’t the Boston Red Sox win two World Series (2004 and 2007) with Terry Francona at the helm after the club went 86 years without a championship?

    Oh, how soon we forget.

    This is a man who has 734 wins for the Sox and only lost 531 games for a very impressive .580 winning percentage as Boston’s head man.

    Now that the team has missed the playoffs for the second straight season, fans and columnists alike have thrown their loyalties aside to form verbal mobs and are calling for the head of everyone with any semblance of power.

    For a second there I almost forgot why the baseball gods cursed Boston in the first place, but adversity shows a fanbase’s true colors and Red Sox Nation is yellow.

    Biggest Question Asked—How many heads will roll because of September’s epic collapse?

    Biggest Question Answered—Not only will Terry Francona and Theo Epstein be fired, the players that came up as small as they possibly could in September may have bought themselves a one-way ticket out of Boston.

    I am looking at you, Carl Crawford.

    Related Links: Francona, Red Sox to part ways (Sports Illustrated)

    Bost-Done: The Boston Red Sox and Their Unforgettable Meltdown (Bleacher Report)

Kobe Bryant Bound for Bologna?

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    Heat Index: 9 out of 10 (Only because it's Kobe, if it were anyone else jumping to Europe, we probably wouldn't care this much.)

     In a move that shocked almost no one, Kobe Bryant seemed to have agreed to jump to Italy during the NBA lockout this morning, as Virtus Bologna owner Claudio Sabatini told reporters the Lakers superstar had agreed to a 10-game, 40-day contract with the club. Sabatini reported that the two sides had a verbal agreement in place for the $3 million deal, and told reporters that the deal was 95 percent done. 

    But, as it turned out, Sabatini was all talk. Recent reports from Yahoo's Adrian Wojnarowski indicate that the deal isn't close at all, and there are some hints that the whole thing was just a big tease from the aging star. 

    At the end of the day, Kobe might just be better off staying home and getting healthy. He looked done during the Lakers' sweep loss to the Mavericks in last season's playoffs, and European clubs' fitness programs aren't exactly renowned for their ability to keep players healthy. 

    Biggest Question: Is it really a good idea for Kobe to head to Italy? 

    Biggest Question Answered: Given the way he ended last season, he should probably just stay home and get himself healthy. He's not getting any younger, and if he winds up hurt (which he will), he'll realize pretty quickly that jumping to Bologna was probably not the brightest idea he's ever had.

    Related Links: Report: Kobe Bryant agrees to $3M deal (ESPN) 

    Kobe Bryant to Italy Rumors: What This Could Mean for NBA's Top Superstar (Bleacher Report)

Further SEC Expansion

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    Heat Index: nine out of 10 (Conference realignment will be the death of the storied history of college football)

    As if the Southeastern Conference (SEC) needed more strength and recruiting power, news that they will expand to at least 14 teams is bad news for college athletics.

    This move by the SEC, as well as every move by a team from conference to conference, is driven by money and the desire to have as much as possible.

    Not academics, like colleges are meant to concentrate on. Schools worrying about education? What is this, the 1950s?

    The biggest allure of college football was the history and the rivalries, and in one fell swoop the entire landscape of what college football fans have come to love and cherish has been tainted by greed.

    Biggest Question Asked—Will constant realignment ruin college athletics?

    Biggest Question Answered—The implications haven’t been felt much, but once teams start playing games in their new conferences and basketball kicks off without Syracuse in the Big East, it will start to hit people.

    Related Links: Tennessee AD Dave Hart on SEC Expansion: '13 Will Not Be the Number' (USA Today)

    SEC Realignment: 10 Options for the 14th Team (Bleacher Report)

Baseball's Playoffs Begin

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    Heat Index: 7 out of 10 (Considering how low of a profile baseball had up until the last week or so, this is pretty darned good)

    It took two of the biggest choke jobs in MLB history courtesy of the Atlanta Braves and Boston Red Sox, and one of the most thrilling days of baseball in the sport's history, but baseball's playoffs are finally underway. 

    Now, the Tampa Bay Rays, who needed extra innings and a walk-off home run from Evan Longoria to stun the Red Sox to steal the Wild Card, get the chance to ride that momentum to the World Series starting today. They take on the Texas Rangers, while the New York Yankees play host to the Detroit Tigers to kick off the postseason. 

    Baseball's riding a massive wave of popularity because of the regular season's thrilling conclusion, now they get the chance to back it up. 

    Biggest Question: Will Major League Baseball capitalize on all the momentum they've built up with the fantastic end to the regular season with an exciting postseason?

    Biggest Question Answered: If this were the NFL, it wouldn't even be a question. But with Bud Selig running the show in baseball, something tells me they'll find some way to screw it up. 

    Related Links: 2011 MLB Playoff Bracket: Predicting Each of the MLB Divisional Series(Bleacher Report) 

    MLB Postseason 2011: Tampa Bay Rays Magic Will Propel Them Past Texas Rangers (Bleacher Report)

Tiger Woods Steals Dustin Johnson's Caddy

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    Heat Index: seven out of 10 (If this was three years ago, it would’ve been a 15, but since Tiger Woods becomes less and less relevant with every passing day, the fact he stole another player’s caddy is just a seven)

    That’s right folks, just when you thought Tiger Woods's life and career couldn’t possibly get more tumultuous, he has the guts to pull the caddy rug out from one of the world's top golfers, Dustin Johnson.

    While Johnson has played this situation off as no big deal, the fact that Woods hired caddy Joe LaCava during the season and Johnson only found out when he was told in the locker room of the Tour Championship shows Woods’ lack of class.

    The hope was Tiger Woods would be humbled by all the things that took place in his personal life, but the popular consensus is that the former No. 1 golfer in the world is more of a nightmare than ever before.

    I can’t wait for him to never win another major.

    Biggest Question Asked—Has Tiger Woods become bad for golf?

    Biggest Question Answered—I never thought I would say this, but the PGA tour would be better off without Tiger Woods involved.

    While they won’t force him out, his lack of success and terrible attitude just drive people away.

    Related Links: Johnson Not Bitter After Losing Caddie to Woods (CBS Sports)

    Tiger Woods' Hiring of LaCava Could Hurt Presidents Cup Chances (Bleacher Report)

New Walter Payton Book Fallout Continues

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    Heat Index: 7 out of 10 (Because no one likes to see Sweetness get dragged through the mud posthumously)

    Shockingly, the tell-all book about Walter Payton, Sweetness: The Enigmatic Life of Walter Payton has gone over about as well as a turd in the punch bowl with fans and former players alike. 

    Jeff Perlman's look at the former Bears star talks about the running back's personal life issues, detailing his substance abuse and affairs, as well as his thoughts of suicide. Now, former coaches and NFL personalities are sounding off. 

    Former Bears head coach Mike Ditka said he'd "spit on" Perlman, and called the book "pathetic" and "despicable", while Panthers head coach Ron Rivera called the book "a shame". Frankly, I couldn't agree more.

    Can't we just let legends be legends? Payton's been dead for 12 years, and his legacy was one of a great player and great person. Digging up the past on a man who's been dead this long is tasteless, and unnecessarily tarnishes the legacy of one of the NFL's all-time greats.

    Biggest Question: Did Jeff Perlman's book on Sweetness' personal issues really need to be written?

    Biggest Question Answered: Given his reputation, and the fact that he's been dead for 12 years now, let's just call this book a little bit tasteless, even if it does tell us the truth about one of the NFL's greatest rushers. 

    Related Links:  Mike Ditka: 'I'd spit on' author of Walter Payton book (USA Today)

    Walter Payton: New Book Uncovers Troubling Details About One of NFL's Best Ever (Bleacher Report)

Indianapolis Colts Find Salvation With Curtis Painter?

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    Heat Index: five out of 10 (It’s only this low, because no one in their right mind expects much out of the surfer-looking quarterback the Colts are going to march out on Sunday)

    With news Peyton Manning could be back in December at the earliest, the Indianapolis Colts decided to sign retired, mediocre quarterback Kerry Collins as the team’s starter, instead of following their ‘Next Man Up” mantra.

    Reggie Wayne was initially critical of the move and stated that Peyton Manning’s backup, Curtis Painter, should be the starter, but Wayne was chastised by the media for speaking out against the coaching staff.

    Now that Collins was worse than dreadful and the Colts are forced to start Painter because of a concussion to their newly signed veteran, there is a chance Wayne will have the media eating crow.

    Not that it will be hard to outperform the lack of success Collins had this season so far.

    Biggest Question Asked—Will Curtis Painter be the answer while Peyton Manning is on the mend?

    Biggest Question Answered—While no one is saying Painter is going to set the world on fire, his grasp of the offense showed last week against the Pittsburgh Steelers once he got up to speed. If his rapport with the receiving group is as good on the field as it is off the field, there could be some real success.

    Related Links: Colts' Wayne Says Painter Should Get Starting QB Spot (

    Curtis Painter May Be Indianapolis Colts' Starting QB, but Does It Matter? (Bleacher Report)

David Stern Using Scare Tactics on Players' Union

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    Heat Index: five out of 10 (it’s only a five, because it doesn’t seem like anyone cares about basketball right now with the NFL season in full swing)

    With just weeks before the scheduled opening of the 2011-2012 NBA season and labor negotiations nowhere near where they should be for coming to a deal on a CBA, it looks like we’ll miss at least half the season like we did in 1998.

    The problem here is David Stern is now threatening to cancel the entire season if both sides don’t start making real progress.

    Good move, commish.

    Not only will they not cancel the entire season, the obviousness of the negotiating tactic is so blatant that it can and should be taken as a slap in the face by the players.

    If they were smart, they would force David Stern’s hand and dig in even further. If the lockout costs the NBA the entire season, it will cost the owners far more than it costs the players in the long run.

    Biggest Question Asked—Will there be NBA basketball this season?

    Biggest Question Answered—If it’s not clear, they are going to use the template they came up with during the lockout shortened 1998 season. We will miss half the season but be back in time for the owners to make big money.

    Related Links: NBA owners, Players Have a Weekend to Find a Deal to End the Lockout (Washington Post)

    NBA Lockout: Will David Stern Cancel the 2011-12 Season? (Bleacher Report)

Tony Romo Needs MORE Attention

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    Heat Index: four out of 10 (I can’t believe people care about this guy anymore than any other quarterback in the NFL, and if he didn’t have a star on his helmet this would be zero out of 10)

    Tony Romo is already one of the most overrated quarterbacks in the NFL right now, but all of this recent playing-through-devastating-injury garbage has gone overboard.

    The Dallas Cowboys QB showed in Week 1 how not clutch he is, but getting destroyed due to lack of mobility earns you accolades in the NFL I suppose.

    Everyone gave Washington Redskins CB DeAngelo Hall grief for saying he wanted to hit the injured Romo, but any NFL fan that thinks Ndamukong Suh won't try to come down hard on Romo's injured ribs is naïve.

    Romo will have to cry on the sidelines while his team gets run over by the Detroit Lions and show just how not tough he really is.

    Biggest Question Asked—Why is Tony Romo hailed as a tough guy when he is so obviously not?

    Biggest Question Answered—It’s because he is at the helm of America’s team, and if Tony Romo was the quarterback of the Miami Dolphins, the fans would be calling for Chad Henne.

    Related Links: Tony Romo May Get More Pain Injections (ESPN Dallas)

    Lions vs. Cowboys: 5 Reasons Tony Romo Will Have His Best Game Yet in Week 4 (Bleacher Report)