Needed only four stages to take over the lead of the Tour de Lance. To maintain our interest, that's where he's gotta stay.
The Lead Item
Two Words For You:
Swimming sensation Michael Phelps ...
Lance Armstrong ... Michelle Wie ... "Jeopardy"
champ Ken Jennings. What do they have in
All represent the lone shot that so-called
"minor" sports have of attracting widespread fan
attention. (OK, maybe "Jeopardy" as a sport is a
stretch, but stick with me here.)
Minor sports have zero chance of making the
leap to full-year, mainstream relevance of NFL, NBA,
MLB and -- most recently -- NASCAR; the best any minor
can hope for is to capture fan attention for a very
limited stretch of time -- and build a business around
The "Best-Ever" Factor becomes the tipping
point for any minor sport: If fans can see something
that's never been done before (or hasn't been done in
their generation), they are willing to spend a slice
of their increasingly fragmented attention span. The
Olympics have banked on that for decades.
Don't expect swimming to be the new NASCAR (though
it's nearly that huge in Australia). But for this
week? Good enough to make the lead story of
The Suns made a surprise offer to
Clippers guard Quentin Richardson. (So how does that
impact the Kobe Watch?) Once Phoenix signed Nash, they
were out of the Bryant bidding, leaving only the
Lakers and the Clippers (who were banking they could
re-sign Q as the backup plan if they couldn't land
Timetable accelerated: On Tuesday, the Clips
will have 15 days to match Q's Suns deal -- which
effectively means a two-week deadline to convince
Kobe. Changing the team name, in his honor, to
"Klippers" is still the best recruiting idea.
Matta to Ohio St.
Thad Madness: Considering the
precocious way Matta led lightly regarded Xavier to
the Elite Eight -- the best coaching job in all of
college hoops last year, let alone the state of Ohio
-- the Buckeyes scored a coup by landing the
36-year-old, who has the potential to revive and grow
the program for 20 years.
||CHECK OUT THE QUICKIE EVERY WEEKDAY MORNING!
|WHO'S GOT THE MOMENTUM ...|
Twins: Thrown 3 straight complete-game shutouts|
Dodgers P Kaz Ishii: Throws a 1-hitter vs. the D-Backs
Tigers: Throw Yanks for loop; W 1st series in NY since '96
|... AND WHO'S GOT NO MO'|
A's: Get crushed (again) by the Red Sox in Boston, 11-3|
Dan O'Brien: Oly comeback fizzles (like "Dan vs. Dave")
Lew Ford: Hello, his Extra Man campaign?? Whosaidwhatnow?
MLB Attendance Up
Not just up, but up huge: 11.4 percent
over last year. The All-Star break is a good time to
go back and re-examine preseason predictions; of all
mine, the biggest was this:
Following last season's best-ever playoffs, this
would be the best season in a baseball generation.
(Yes, italics signal "flashback.") The attendance
numbers actually make me right (for once).
Big Unit Rumors
Red Sox GM Theo Epstein denies rumors
that he's going to woo Randy Johnson at the All-Star
Game next week? I completely understand (what, with
those pesky "tampering" penalties).
But even if he can't land Randy, Theo's next-best
option is to do whatever it takes to make sure the Unit ends
up anywhere but with the Yankees.
Idea: Nothing would frustrate the Boss more
(aside from his current pitching) than the Mets --
suddenly one game out of first! -- swooping in (with
Theo's help, of course, perhaps with a three-way trade).
Love the Web voting for the MLB
All-Star Game's "Extra Man." Hardly a surprise that
Hideki Matsui got the nod in the AL (would love to see
the percentage of votes from Japan), but it was great
to see deserving Phillies OF Bobby Abreu get
Braves Make Moves
"We should be the ones in San Juan,"
Braves manager Bobby Cox said, after sweeping the
Expos and pouring on 26 runs in three games. Of
course, the Braves' fan base is so iffy, would they
even notice if the team went South?
P.S.: Braves just 1.5 games behind first-place Philly.
New Angels Name?
The City of Anaheim won't let Angels owner Arte Moreno
change the team name to "L.A. Angels," which Moreno wants to better reflect (who are we
kidding: to market to) the team's wider SoCal
If owner he really wants a marketing boost --
especially with the kids -- the team renaming is
simple and surely agreeable to all:
"The OC Angels" (Cue catchy alt-rock music and
images of teen hotties hooking up.)
||Amish in the City:
Controversial reality series is back on the schedule for later this month. Odds on seeing daylight? Still slim.
|Today on ESPN.com|
|Page 2: What the Heck Were They Thinking?|
|Vote for ESPY winners|
|IN: Guys on the trade block|
last 5 years
|But Arena on up-and-up|
|Needs its Michelle Wie|
|But watch softball!|
|Nah: Jokes too easy ...|
|Just kidding: Faddish|
The Magic rebuilding continues, with shot-happy Hedo
Turkoglu joining (6yr/$39M) shot-happy Steve Francis
and rookie Dwight Howard ...|
Bonds Watch: Just 1 free pass from tying own
single-season IBB record, set in '02. Wildest part?
He'll break it in half the time ...
Hmm: Maybe today will finally be the day that the
Lakers announce Rudy T as coach, and end
the lame distraction ...
Vince Carter Trade Rumor: He's angry because he had no
say in personnel moves; didn't that screw up the
Raptors in the first place? ...
In the biggest (or maybe *only*) league-merger news
since the NBA-ABA, Japan's Central and Pacific
baseball are talking ...
Are the D-Rays for real? A series starting today in
New York versus the struggling Yankees will be the
ultimate litmust test ...