August 11, 2006
Diana Taurasi:
Scores a WNBA-record 47 points in a win that was also the highest-scoring game in league history: 111-110 in 3 OTs. (Best game ever in WNBA?)
 
 
 
The Lead Item
Two Words For You:
PRE.  SEASONING.

It's easy to dismiss this weekend's 13 NFL preseason openers as shallow, but here are 10 even shallower analyses that spice 'em up just a little:

(1) Bush vs. Young: Let's hope the two highest profile rookies decide to play "Can you top this?" in their pro debuts.

(2) Big Ben Back: This is why the blocking scheme "Max Protect" was invented. But taking a shot would probably do him some good.

(3) Culpepper's Return: What knee injury? Even a single series would represent a massive step forward for the QB -- and the Dolphins.

(4) Cards' New House: Will Matt Leinart be buying tickets to enjoy the opening of the Cardinals' gorgeous new stadium?

(5) McNair Has a New Home

(6) Broncos' Backfield: Who else is intrigued to see if No. 1 RB Mike Bell lives up to his new position at the top of the depth chart?

(7) Super Mario: How many exhibition sacks will No. 1 overall draft pick Mario Williams need to quiet critics? (Too many.)

(8) Redskins Rising: If Al Saunders thought coaching under the glare of Jason Whitlock in KC was tough enough, wait until he discovers D.C.

(And welcome to the NFL-crazy world of Kansas City, Herm Edwards. A million fantasy GMs will hold their breath every time LJ has a carry.)

(9) Pats' Questions: No Branch. No Bruschi. Multiple other key injuries. Ah, screw it: Where's my Matt Cassel jersey?

(10) Bengals Baffling: Carson Palmer is still rehabbing. Half the team is in jail. Big story? How many fans call the new "jerk" hotline?

And an extra-special bonus:

No T.O. (YES!): Let's hope he *doesn't* play in Dallas' opener; his soap opera would undoubtedly eclipse the rest of the weekend.

MLB Hit List
Here's a handy rule of thumb: Any contender that gets swept by the Royals in August doesn't deserve to make the playoffs.

(And Curt Schilling is out of the running for the AL Cy, as far as I'm concerned; his new "top stat" is giving up an AL record-tying 10 extra-base hits.)

L.A.'s passing move complete: The Dodgers beat the Rockies last night to take over first place in the NL West, which felt inevitable after their recent 11-game win streak. Ageless OF Kenny Lofton was the game's hero.

Bad hair day: Slump-busting new braids couldn't save Bronson Arroyo from serving up three homers to the Cards, who earned a key split in a four-game series with the Reds in Cincy. Arroyo is 0-5 in his last 10 starts.

Dusty Baker to testify before MLB's Mitchell Commission, presumably about Bonds. The question will be some variation on the classic: What did you know and when did you know it?

The White Sox would be best served by forgetting yesterday's win over the Yankees (featuring yet another costly A-Rod error) and focusing on this weekend's "Prove It!" series at home vs. the Tigers.

Liriano Watch: The Twins' doc describing his opinion about Francisco Liriano's return in 2006 as "optimistic, but not totally confident" is a pretty good proxy for how Twins fans should be feeling right now.

CHECK OUT THE QUICKIE EVERY WEEKDAY MORNING!
WHO'S GOT THE MOMENTUM ...
Auburn: Athletic dept. cleared by school in grades scandal
Carmelo: USA Hoops star practices Thursday despite knee
Little League World Series: Starts this weekend on ESPN
... AND WHO'S GOT NO MO'
Ervin Santana: Angels SP KO'd in 1st after comebacker
Jeff Allison: Marlins prospect overdoses on heroin, again
Rafael Nadal: Defending champ upset in Rogers Cup 3rd rd.
 
Clarett Watch
Bad: $5 million bond is likely too high for Maurice Clarett to meet, meaning he'll sit in jail until his trial.

Worse: That's nothing if the feds get involved and bust him for a possibly violating a federal law that prohibits someone under indictment from having a gun.

Meanwhile, I can't help wondering if all this would have been avoided if the NFL had let Clarett into the league after his freshman year.

The leagues argue their draft rules are there to "protect" younger players, but I can't see any scenario playing out for Clarett worse than this.

Colts Top Rams
Who starts the preseason with an onside kick? Maybe Tony Dungy wanted to show off his new toy, kicker Adam Vinatieri. Maybe he wanted to get Peyton Manning on (and off) the field ASAP.

Whatever the reason, the Colts pulled it off, Peyton led a quick march down the field for a TD before leaving the game, and Adam V. chipped in a 53-yarder in a foreshadowing of a sick season for him.

But the Rams won the game, and speaking of foreshadowing, Scott Linehan used 40 runs against 31 passes, a preview of an unshackled new-look offense free of Mike Martz's ADD.

LenDale Loogie?
In projecting LenDale White as a fantasy (and reality) rookie stud sleeper, I considered the chip on his shoulder for having dropped from first-round lock to second-round draftee.

But it might be too little "chip" and too much "crazy": yesterday White got into a brawl at Titans camp after he reportedly spit in the face of a teammate.

Spit in a teammate's face?

Feisty is one thing, but LenDale should save his loogies for real opponents. The over/under on a White "incident" moves to Week 8.

"Good" Eddie Speaks
I can think of someone who had a worse week than Maurice Clarett: Eddie Johnson.

Not the ex-NBA player accused of sexually assaulting an 8-year-old girl. That dude can rot in hell.

No, I'm talking about the ex-NBA player now known as "the GOOD Eddie Johnson," the nice guy whose image was wrecked by the case of mistaken identity with Bad Eddie. Need a handy guide to distinguish?

Age
Good Eddie: 47
Bad Eddie: 51

Size
Good Eddie: 6-foot-8
Bad Eddie: 6-foot-2

NBA Career
Good Eddie: 17 years
Bad Eddie: 10 years

College
Good Eddie: Illinois
Bad Eddie: Auburn

Current Role
Good Eddie: TV hoops analyst
Bad Eddie: Accused molester

Because he's earned it, let's give Good Eddie the last word:

"My name is everything. I don't fault the other Eddie Johnson for having that name. I think it's a great name. He just doesn't happen to be a great guy."

"Fan Ban," Cont'd
My chat regulars were inspired by yesterday's story about the Yankees fan banned from the Stadium for life after jumping from the upper deck into the home plate netting.

We refined the hypothetical found in yesterday's column. Here's the new one, and I'd like to know your reactions:

Would you rather …

(a) Spend at least a week in a prison that could be described as not quite as horrifying as "Oz" but not nearly as swank as "Club Fed" …

*OR*

(b) Serve a lifetime ban from watching your favorite team play in person OR live on TV. (You would be allowed to watch your team on tape delay, but only after being told the final score. Ack!)

Not so easy anymore, is it? It's amazing the conditions you can create that make a couple days in prison sound tolerable.

(As for me, I'm most definitely not built for prison life. It wouldn't be pretty, unless you count the makeup I'd probably be in by the end of the first hour. I'll take the lifetime ban from watching my team.)

"ABC Sports":
Officially replaced by "ESPN on ABC." Maybe it's generational, but I don't feel the lament of the old fogeys over this. ESPN *is* ABC's sports brand.
 
 
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He's just about due ...
 
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WSOP: Jamie (Don't Call Me Ari) Gold has a commanding lead, with more than half the chips and just four others remaining at the final table.

Lo Duca Vice Watch: Illegal bookies have come looking for Paul Lo Duca in the past to pay up, according to today's report in the NY Daily News.

More NFL Preseason: Donovan McNabb looked good (7/9, 78 yds) and the Eagles beat the Browns 20-7. Kellen Winslow Jr. had 2 catches in his return to the NFL.

NBA Offseason: Did the Nuggets' trade of Ruben Patterson to the Bucks for Joe Smith position the team to finally unload PF Kenyon Martin?

For all the QB intrigue in the NFL, college football has a few battles of its own. That's the latest in ESPN.com's CFB '06 preview.

Coming Monday: Why Tony Kornheiser on "Monday Night Football" is the best thing ever to happen to the NFL on TV (no matter what he says).



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