Wake-up Call: Kings, Drew Brees, Tim Tebow, Mack Brown, Jason Giambi, Venus Williams
First things first: So many young Kings did so well in the World Junior Hockey Championships. I was asking not too long ago what is up with Thomas Hickey? I got my answer last night, as Helene Elliott's blog points made clear. Hope lives for Kings fans. Now, can these kids bring it to the NHL level? Oscar Moller, one of the three in last night's title game, already is with the club. Hickey may be close.
Next shocker: Drew Brees was named the AP offensive player of the year this morning. With Brees' stats, it really isn't a surprise. He came so close -- 5,069 yards passing -- to breaking Dan Marino's 1984 record. A better NFL shocker is little Darren Sproles of the San Diego Chargers and his amazing effort in Sunday's victory. He made viewers start to forget LaDainian Tomlinson was hurt. The Times' Bill Dwyre has a good read this morning on Sproles.
Bowl beauty: Will anyone be watching the BCS title game other than Florida and Oklahoma fans and those who've made bets on the game? Thursday night -- what was the BCS thinking? It will be worth watching at least part of it to see Tim Tebow take the Gators downfield over and over again, and to watch L.A.'s Emmanuel Moody sprint past defenders. But the real reason to watch is to see if Oklahoma's Sam Bradford -- and head Coach Bob Stoops --can win a really big game. The Sooners couldn't even beat rival Texas back in October. Mack Brown's Longhorns, by the way, won the Fiesta Bowl last night against Ohio State, behind the arm of Colt McCoy. McCoy was great under pressure in that last 1:36. Yet at the end of the game, it was Brown whom I kept watching. He somehow looked different than I remember. Younger than I remember. You be the judge. The Brown on the left is from 2005. The one on the right is from last night. Either way, he is a lively face in college football.
Hit money: Word from ESPN's Buster Olney today is that the Oakland A's and free agent first baseman and DH Jason Giambi are close to agreeing on a one-year deal with an option for 2010. The deal reportedly would pay Giambi $5.25 million in 2009 with a $4-million base salary for the option year in 2010. And this, even though Giambi was cited in the Mitchell Report. The Yankees sure didn't want him back. Of course, baseball fans will remember that Giambi started his career in Oakland and was a key part of the terrific book "Moneyball" after GM Billy Beane let Giambi become a free agent and replaced him with Scott Hatteberg.
Hit and run: Venus Williams, who is in Hong Kong for a exhibition tennis tournament, said she isn't even close to retiring, so don't go there. She is 28 and still wants to win the two Grand Slams that have escaped her: the Australian and French Opens. "I love my job. I love hitting balls, running, jumping, chasing after that ball. I love what I do, so that's what keeps me motivated," the L.A. native said. She has won Wimbledon five times and the U.S. Open twice and said reclaiming the No. 1 spot is a realistic goal. She is currently ranked No. 6. The flagging sport of tennis could use Venus Williams, or even sister Serena, in the top spot. Jelena Jankovic is the current No. 1.
-- Debbie Goffa
Photo: Thomas Hickey, right, races to celebrate with goalie Dustin Tokarski after Canada defeated Sweden, 5-1, in the title game Monday night at the World Junior Hockey Championships in Ottawa. Credit: Adrian Wyld / The Canadian Press / AP