August 20, 2004
Carly Patterson:
She's adorable, she's competitive -- and she's the first U.S. women's gold medal all-around gymnast since Mary Lou Retton. Call her "Starly."
 
 
 
The Lead Item
Two Words For You:
PHELPS.  RECONSIDERED.

Season finale of "Phelps on Demand!" In case you're just tuning in, so far Michael Phelps has won 6 swimming medals (4 golds).

Two events left: 100 fly and 400 medley relay. In both he's the heavy favorite for more gold. That would make 8 medals (in all 8 entered events) and an astonishing six golds.

Four words sum up watching him this week: As good as advertised. (Oh, and will he be advertised more ...)

But even with a late-summer Wheaties box (a battle with Carly), Phelps and swimming will submerge back under the sports fans' radar after this weekend. But keep this in mind: At 19, he has at least one more Olympics to out-do his '04 performance. Maybe 2012, too.

10 medals, anyone?

Wheaties Watch
Phelps may have more hardware but the cereal box loves the gymnast:

1. Carly Patterson
The new Mary Lou Retton
2. Michael Phelps
5th and 6th golds coming soon
3. Paul Hamm
Maybe Hamm/Patterson co-box?
4. Women's softball
Another shutout! Untouchable!
5. Amanda Beard
Edges past Nat Coughlin
On radar: Track starts Friday

Clemens to Boston?
The Deal That Almost Was: Rocket's return to the Red Sox? Almost happened, and the media is just starting to pick up the pieces. The details are confusing -- waiver-wire placement, claims and pull-backs -- but unnecessary for the Quickie analysis:

What?!?!

It's a non-starter now, but does this open the door to Clemens returning to Boston in the offseason? After all their griping, Red Sox fans would welcome him back like family.

CHECK OUT THE QUICKIE EVERY WEEKDAY MORNING!
WHO'S GOT THE MOMENTUM ...
ATL C Johnny Estrada: Can hit! .330 avg, .390 RISP, 63 RBI
Jacksonville: Already hosts GA/FLA; now gets ACC title game
MLB-TV: Owners approve new all-baseball network
... AND WHO'S GOT NO MO'
Phillies: Lose 7th straight, end homestand in 1-9 nosedive
Joe Nathan: 29 IP zip streak over with blown SV vs. Yanks
Riddick Bowe: 9/25 comeback fight? Hello: Brain damage?
 
NFL Weekend
Five squabbles to watch:

1. BAL/PHI: T.O. vs. Ravens D
2. DAL/OAK: Keyshawn vs. Sapp
3. TEN/BUF: McGahee vs. Henry
4. NE/CIN: Dillon vs. ex-team
5. SD/ARI: Flutie vs. Brees

Meanwhile: Eli Manning inched closer to starting Week 1 for the Giants, by outplaying Kurt Warner and doing "OK" (Coughlin's assessment) vs. reigning NFC champ Carolina. (Wow: Delhomme was sharp!)

Selig: 5 More Years
Time to give Bud a break: If for no other reason, fans have to live with him through 2009 (per his new contract).

Chalk up the "Bumbling Bud" of the '90s to inexperience, because Bold Bud of this decade has been solid: Innovative (i.e., improved stat-keeping and a 24/7 MLB TV network) and marketing-savvy (i.e., "It Counts" and the future World Cup).

And you can't dismiss that he has been at the helm during the last 12 months, the apex of MLB's renaissance. Credit him for it? Never. But it's hard to argue he's been bad for the game.

U.S. Hoops
Let's sum up the only U.S. hoops strategy that makes gold a possibility: Play LeBron more. Want specifics? His 15 minute-per-game average should be doubled.

How simple: Yet Larry "Old School" Brown seems to want to give his youngsters the Darko treatment as much as he wants to win. The U.S. doesn't need a teaching lesson; it needs a gold medal.

With LeBron on the floor, the U.S. is a better team; the fact James wasn't playing more in previous games might make anyone question Brown's talent-management cred.

Eric Gagne:
From "Game Over" to "Game Blow-ver": Dodgers closer foiled by clutch Hotlanta on Thursday. Residual rep from vaunted streak is what's over.
 
 
Today on ESPN.com
Page 2: Caple goes to the beach
College football preview
Olympics coverage
 
More NFL Weekend Subplots
MIN/ATL
Vick is always a story
 
WAS/MIA
Watching Skins O, Fins D
 
DET/CLE
Lions snubbed Browns' K2
 
NYJ/IND
NY fans see real Manning
 
NO/GB
More "Tim Ouch" watching
 

Irony of the Games: After gripe about Japanese breaststroker's illegal kick, golden Aaron Peirsol has sketchy move of his own ...

Biggest MLB series of the weekend: ANA at NYY. Angels are .5 GB Boston, Texas for AL wild card -- and 1.5 GB the A's in the West ...

More from MLB owner meetings: That August window to announce the Expos' move was a facade; no decision likely until November ...

MLB owners also approve a baseball World Cup: An amazing offseason marketing idea, but it won't start until '06 at earliest ...

Biggest names to watch as Olympics hype switches from swim/gym to track? Alan Webb (distance) and all U.S. sprinters ...

Larry Bowa firing watch: After 1-9 homestand, will he even make it through the weekend? Still betting on Labor Day ...



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