August 9, 2004
Tim Wakefield:
Red Sox P gives up six HRs -- *6!!* -- and still wins. Best example of "run support" of the year (if not the decade).
The Lead Item
Two Words For You:

Still waiting to be "ready for some Olympics" (that'll come Friday). But "ready for some football?" Always.

"Preseason opener" is a passion-numbing phrase in any sport... except the NFL. And considering tonight's game (8 p.m., ABC) is Joe Gibbs' return to the sidelines, that makes it particularly fascinating.

There's a lot of whining that the preseason is too long -- that games are meaningless. Let boredom and griping come three weeks from now: For tonight? You want it, you need it, you have to have it.

HOF: Elway, Sanders
Like many fans, I don't see sports history too far beyond the ESPN25 Era. That's why I'll argue that we won't see a Pro Football Hall of Fame class much more studly than yesterday's:

John Elway: Era's best QB
Barry Sanders: Era's best RB
(Uh, who were the other two?)

It's a barstool debate that could last for weeks: Was Elway a better "pure" passer than Marino? More "clutch" than Montana? Elways rules precisely because he's in the argument in seemingly every category.

Meanwhile: Think about how crappy most of Sanders' Lions teams were, how D's were fully drawn up to stop him -- and they still couldn't. That mitigates the "never won big" argument against ultimate greatness.

Penny Injured
It's so hard to defend the Dodgers' Penny deal as the trade deadline's best when Sunday the guy strains his bicep 14 pitches into his second start with the team.

(Not that they need him to win NL West; because they can win the division even without him, critics will use that to say the trade was unnecessary.)

But file this away: Rest him, Paul D. Healthy for the playoffs, Penny will be a monster.)

Larry Walker: Don't let 3-day-old status fool you -- Wow!
Atlanta Braves: Way too quietly, have won 10/11 (14/16)
Jeff Gordon: NASCAR's love/hate driver wins Brickyard 400
Kerry Wood: Throws no Ks for 1st time in 155 career starts
J. Young: Just one more of US's Sydney "Cursed 4x400"
Bill Clinton on SNL: Ex-prez *will* do Daily Show on Mon.
Huizenga Ticked
Taking his... ounce of flesh:
Ricky Williams might be a little free-spirited, but Dolphins owner Wayne Huizenga is anything but. He reportedly wants a refund on the $5 million of incentive cash he paid Ricky over the last two years.

Now that money was for performances rendered, not pending, but you "keeper league" fantasy owners who have Ricky can sympathize with Huizenga's agita.

Olympics Watch
Today's spin: Athens rules!
Note how all the coverage today from reporters and columnists descending on Athens is that things are coming together within the once-mocked infrastructure.

That signals either brilliant expectations management by the host city (which I can't possibly buy) -- or the fact that the city got its act together in the 11th hour.

But let's track the spin up through the Games' opening Friday, when event logistics actually have to start working.

USA Hoops: Barely
Sure, they beat Serbia Friday, but Serbia is the new U.S. (over-estimated and believing their own hype).

A better gauge? The way the U.S. nearly blew a double-digit lead to lightweight Turkey on Sunday, having to re-insert the starters to finish the job that LeBron and the subs couldn't.

Payton to Celtics
Last word: Sure, it makes the Celtics better, but more than that, it's a classic example of the "Theirs/Mine" Exception to the Fairweather-Fan Rules:

When the player is on "their" team, he's a mockery; as soon as he's traded to "your" team, suddenly flaws are fixable and upside looks sunnier.

All is good... until the fans find out that, yes, he really has lost it.

Carlos Tosca:
Blue Jays fire manager for the baseball crime of not fulfilling (possibly overhyped) preseason expectations in Toronto.
Today on
Page 2
Best QBs of ESPN25 Era
John Elway
If not the best *ever*
Brett Favre
And still going strong
Dan Marino
No rings hurts a lot
Joe Montana
Two words: System QB
Michael Vick
Kidding! Really, Aikman

Marginalize them as low-budget pretenders if you must, but the A's and Twins put on an 18-inning show in Oakland's 6-5 win Sunday...

How many fantasy owners groaned when they heard that Arizona RB super-sleeper Marcel Shipp was out for 8 weeks with leg injury?...

D. Boston isn't a Ricky-sized loss for the Dolphins (WRs simply don't mean as much for Miami), but Antonio Freeman to replace?...

Congrats to Greg Maddux on Win No. 300...

Just kidding about the "other" Hall of Famers (though judging by coverage, I'm not far off): Congrats Carl Eller, Bob Brown...

Not sure who this Giants rookie P Noah Lowry is, but he won his 2nd straight start (beating the Cubs, no less) and can hit, too...

The irony of Rick James' death on Friday, in the wake of his renewed popularity via "Chapelle's Show," makes it a little sadder...

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