August 26, 2003
Pete Sampras:
Tearful retirement send-off at U.S. Open. He'd be more highly regarded, like it or not, if his emotional display wasn't notable for its rarity.
 
 
 
The Lead Item
Two Words For You:
STATEMENT.  GAME.

A year ago, USA Basketball wasn't just upended by Argentina in the World Championships; the team was humiliated by a group that played harder, smarter, faster and more above-the-rim.

With a more talented and focused team playing in the Americas Olympic qualifying tournament, the U.S. should see Tuesday night's rematch with Argentina as nothing less than the ultimate referendum on what is still jingoistically referred to as "our game."

But win or lose, the gap between the U.S. and the rest of the world grows smaller. Like Obi Wan Kenobi to Darth Vader, if we destroy them, they'll only come back more powerful than ever.

Leaping up the growth curve, the world learns from our best, who will be celebrated for reclaiming what's "ours." But only for now.

MLB: AL Watch
First rule of scoreboard: If your own team wins, everything else takes care of itself. In the middle of battling Boston for the AL Wild Card spot, Oakland can look up and notice they're in a tie for first in the AL West. But they should only take a glance before getting back to the winning.

Then again, the second rule is: Doesn't hurt if your rival is losing at the same time. The Mariners are in a tailspin after being swept in Boston -- capped by losing again to Pedro (0-12 lifetime).

We'll know if the M's are in it to stay -- or done -- after the next 12 games vs. Tampa and Baltimore.

P. Manning: Lunacy
"You've just got to play," said Peyton Manning, who threw himself all over the field in last night's 28-23 Colts win over the Broncos. Easy to say when you walk off healthy enough to play again the next day. (Maybe Manning thinks he has to improve his image as a softie.)

ASHLEY HARKLEROAD: ANNA CAN KEEP HER TV JOB
THE SET-UP: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW FOR TODAY
1 Hoops: U.S. vs. Argentina for Western Hemis. pride
2 White Sox at Yankees: Are Go-Gos for real? We'll see
3 U.S. Open: Agassi, Roddick, Capriati on schedule
THE SIT-DOWN: DROP THESE FROM YOUR HOT LIST
1 U.S. Open 8-seed Chanda Rubin: Bounced in 1st round
2 Chucky dolls: Bucs' Raymond James Stadium bans them
3 LLWS: Now comes real presssure -- starting junior high
 
But the NFL is on to a great preseason-marketing slogan: "Watch your favorite players before they get hurt."

Brunell: No Takers
QB depth is every NFL team's most pressing need, as mentioned in Monday's Quickie. So does it say something about Mark Brunell's skills -- or his contract size -- that the Jaguars can't find a taker in their reported (ESPN) attempt to dump him?

Mizzou Hoops
Now we'll see if Slick Quin Snyder's basketball team is as clean as his look: The Missouri president has authorized an investigation into the entire men's hoops program. In this year's trendy "Y2Crackdown," it might be an inopportune time to have, say, embittered ex-players out and about.

B.Y.O. Fans
The future of fan-ness is here: If an athlete doesn't have any, bribe some into rooting for them, like

little-known U.S. tennis player Mardy Fish did at the Open yesterday, as reported by ESPN.com's Darren Rovell.

Call it being a "Free Agent Fan": And if you're willing to trade your allegiance for a cheap ducat and a faux-homemade poster, more power to you.

Playmakers
What ER did for docs and Oz did for prison life, Playmakers (ESPN, 9 p.m. ET) will do for pro football. (Except those shows didn't have NFL Films-quality camera work during action sequences ... in the case of Oz, um, probably a good thing.)

Raiders LB
Bill Romanowski

Suspended from Monday's practice for beating the crap -- out of a teammate -- during Sunday's practice. Save it for the OTHER team, Romo ...
 
 
Today on ESPN.com
P2: Sports Guy on "Playmakers"
NFL Preview
FAN: Football tips
 
"New CD Release" Edition
Mary J. Blige
'Love, Life': Sampras, tennis
 
Warren Zevon
'Wind': Blowing which way for Cubs?
 
Hilary Duff
'Metamorph.': NFL cut-down day
 
Nappy Roots
'Wooden': Also describes Sampras
 
Ben Lee
'You, Yes You': Ruben upset
 

Lamar Odom gets his wish: Exit from Hell-A. The Clippers won't match his offer sheet from the Miami Heat ...

Under the radar, Andy Pettitte is on track to be a rare '03 20-game winner ...

More shocking than the U.S. losing dominance in hoops is the U.S. medal shutout in the 100 at the World T-and-F Championships ...

For all his interest in being an NBA owner, why hasn't MJ jumped at chance to join Bobcats? Johnson group gives him one more month ...

Seven straight Ws? Break up the Brewers ...



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