August 7, 2006
Tiger Woods:
Youngest golfer ever (by seven years) to reach 50 career wins after breezing through the Buick's virtual putt-putt course with a career-best 28 birdies.
 
 
 
The Lead Item
Two Words For You:
X.  COMMUNICATED.

This weekend I discovered the antidote to Floyd Landis, Justin Gatlin, MLB cheating, youth hoops corruption, the T.O. soap opera, BCS nonsense and everything else that is wrong with sports:

Travis Pastrana.

Admittedly, I'm no "X-pert," but you don't have to be one to appreciate the thrill ride Pastrana took sports fans on this weekend at the X Games. I'm ready to hand him the 2007 ESPY for "Athlete of the Year" right now.

Last week, I dubbed Pastrana the "Bo Jackson" of extreme sports because of his combination of highlight-reel skills and astounding versatility. He lived up to that (and more):

Travis knows tricks: His sick double-backflip in the Moto-X best trick event (which snatches sports highlight of the year from the "720" dunk) was arguably the greatest X sports moment ever.

Travis knows rallies: Saturday, he took gold in the first-ever rally car racing event, switching seamlessly from two wheels to four -- like leading the NBA in scoring, then winning the AL batting title.

Travis knows freestyling: He won a third gold on Sunday, in his defining event (Moto-X freestyle). Despite a balky knee, he set such a high bar on his first run that there was no need for a second. He was leaps and bounds (and flips and La-Z-Boys) better than the comp.

When Pastrana hit that historic double, there was an explosion of joy -- from him, from the announcers, from the crowd, from my couch -- I've never experienced before in sports.

No preening. Just enthusiasm. Sports purists may dismiss X sports as some newfangled competition involving sports that they didn't grow up with. What a mistake: A weekend spent watching them quickly showed how infectious and entertaining the X sports' spirit of competition can be.

Plus, right now, after Pastrana's golden weekend and yet more scandals across the sports world, X sports look like the only pure thing left in sports.

Utley: It's Over
What's the difference between an active hit streak of 35 and a finished hit streak of 35?

I'd say it's the difference between the tantalizing possibility of seeing history and the reality of wondering what the fuss was all about.

How will Utley's streak "utli-mately" be remembered? Unfortunately, it'll never be better than merely "second-best in Phillies history."

More Streak Watching: Meanwhile, Mets SP John Maine's streak of 23 straight scoreless innings makes you appreciate Orel Hershiser's 59 straight in '88 as equally untouchable as Joe D's legendary 56. (Or more.)

MLB Hit List
I have to ask BoSox fans: So how's it feel?!?!

(Meanwhile, not that it's any solace after blowing a late 6-2 lead and losing on a walk-off HR, but David "MVPapi" Ortiz became the first Red Sox player ever to hit 40-plus HRs in three straight seasons.)

The Dodgers are sizzling: Nine straight wins through Sunday's sweep of the Marlins, L.A.'s third sweep in a row. Ten straight games at home coming up; do Angelenos have pennant fever?

The best personnel move Omar Minaya will ever make as Mets GM won't be a mega-trade or some flashy offseason purchase. It'll be signing future NL MVP David Wright to a six-year, $55 million contract extension.

CHECK OUT THE QUICKIE EVERY WEEKDAY MORNING!
WHO'S GOT THE MOMENTUM ...
Jimmie Johnson: Wins Allstate 400 at Brickyard. Kiss 'em!
New Orleans: Stern says Bugs expected to return in '07-08
David Akers: Sets HOF Game record with 55-yard field goal
... AND WHO'S GOT NO MO'
Carson Palmer: No guarantees he can start Week 1
Bruce Perry: Eagles RB carted off field on stretcher (neck)
Tank Williams: Vikings DB could miss entire season (knee)
 
Rangers SP Adam Eaton may have set an unofficial record by being ejected after only 18 pitches, for throwing at the Angels' Juan Rivera.

Eaton says it was missed location; the ump argued it wouldn't have happened without Garret Anderson's HR preceding the pitch in question.

Series of the Week: Cards at Reds. Cincy is 3.5 GB with four to play vs. division-leading St. Louis (they play three more at St. Louis next week, their final head-to-head games of the season).

How seriously are the wild card-leading Reds taking it? Bronson Arroyo pitched on short rest Saturday, just so he could set up his starts to pitch once in the next four games, then again in the series in St. Louis.

NFL Camping
Raiders beat Eagles: If the first game of the exhibition season can be used as foreshadowing (and it really shouldn't), both Oakland and Philly are in for really down years.

Is Reggie White the greatest defensive player in NFL history? Based on the fans' emotional reception at his posthumous Hall of Fame induction ceremony this weekend, he's in the argument.

What is it with Steelers players and motorcycles? Offensive tackle Barrett Brooks was arrested yesterday for evading police on a bike. And because I know you're wondering: No, he wasn't wearing a helmet.

NFL Commish
The owners will hear from each of the five finalists today, then make their choice as early as tomorrow (and likely by Wednesday).

Think Roger Goodell, the presumptive favorite, is feeling any pressure? Jags owner Wayne Weaver didn't exactly give him a public vote of confidence last week.

Meanwhile, Mayo Shattuck seals it up for me (and every other fan) if he brings his Ravens cheerleader wife to do a routine on the side of the boardroom.

Landis Is Done
Here's your hypothetical of the day:

If you were Tour de France runner-up (now likely champ-by-default) Oscar Pereiro, would you display that TdF trophy like you won it, or feel weird about it?

(In an analogue, does Ohio State fly a "1992 NCAA Tournament Southeast Regional Champs" banner, because Michigan had to forfeit that game a decade later after an NCAA scandal? I wouldn't.)

Even if Pereiro DOES embrace it, how valuable is winning the ultimate title in a sport that is almost universally believed to be a fraud?

(Here's THAT analogue: It's like saying on your resume that you were a star performer at Enron. Don't expect that interview call anytime soon.)

The only thing people will remember about this race is how Floyd Landis lost -- and how he was the coup de grace in turning the glamourous "Tour de Lance" into the "Tour de Farce."

NBA Youth Academy?
A couple thoughts about David Stern's in-depth interview in today's New York Times about his "serious" intention to put together an NBA-sponsored youth basketball academy:

(1) I agree the youth hoops system is completely broken, overrun with shady characters and even shadier relationships, in a nexus between local AAU leagues, shoe companies and college hoops coaches who let it happen.

(2) Taking on the AAU morass is admirable, but it's a quagmire that will ultimately erode the NBA's focus and hurt its credibility.

Not even the mighty Stern (whose rhetoric resembles a hoops version of a "neoconservative") can fix this mess.

(3) Isn't the current culture partially Stern's own doing, for creating that 19-year-old age limit that empowers the AAU scoundrels who wedge between the preps and colleges players are now forced to attend?

Restoring the old free-market system would allow the NBA to assert much more control over the high school scene (and the dozen or so players in each class that are likely to make the league).

USA Hoops
Expect another rout tonight when Carmelo and Co. take on China.

But mark this game as a barometer … for the Chinese:

• How much better will China look in two years when it hosts the Olympics?

• And how much better will China be in a decade, given its talent pipeline and inspiration from the U.S. today?

Don't laugh at a lopsided score: Remember the unintended consequence of Dream Team domination in '92 was how much better everyone ELSE got.

Floyd Landis:
Not to pile on even more, but his latest theme? Blame organizing bodies UCI and WADA. "There's some kind of agenda there. I just don't know what it is."
 
 
Today on ESPN.com
Quickie Live
Page 2 Index
NFL Camping
 
MLB's Best 3B
David Wright
2006 NL MVP front-runner?
 
Miguel Cabrera
Where's HIS extension?!
 
Alex Rodriguez
Yes, take both over A-Rod
 
Troy Glaus
Leads all 3B with 31 HRs
 
Ryan Zimmerman
The next David Wright?
 

McNabb Update: 3-3 for 29 yards, leading the Eagles on a 61-yard TD drive in his only series of the game. Backup Jeff Garcia (INT) ain't pretty.

More Eagles: Smart mutual decision by both the D-first team and Philly-loyal Sean Dawkins to keep him around another two years.

Look for an uptick in lacrosse wins at D-II Bryant College after hiring ex-Duke coach Mike Pressler. (But monitor that new lax team culture, too.)

WSOP Update: Less than 100 players remain. Most intriguing? TV producer and ex-agent Jamie (Don't Call Me Ari) Gold. Writing his own dream pitch.

Rhett Bomar Watch: Apparently, the exiled Oklahoma QB has drawn interest from Texas A&M. (No, not the Aggies, but the
D-II "Commerce" campus. Irony.)

Does Jared Jeffries really consider himself a winner by bolting the playoff-contending Wizards for the bottom-feeding Knicks?



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