By Tim Keown
Page 2

So a gun is fired into the side of the Cleveland Indians' bus. The bullet travels through the bus and hits a rookie pitcher in the leg, but don't worry -- he's going to be all right. After all, he was wearing go-go boots and let that be a lesson to you.

In Minnesota, the Twins have to leave their own field in a tie game as they work for home-field advantage because the grounds crew has to get ready for a college football game. The word comes down in the 11th inning, and everybody leaves so they can paint more lines on the field.

Emmitt Smith
More evidence that sports may have taken a bizarre turn.

Were our games always this goofy, or have we entered a bizarre new realm?

Emmitt Smith runs for 127 yards, roughly two yards for every year of his life.

The San Francisco Giants lose their chance at the postseason when Cody Ransom, a shortstop whose presence in the big leagues is due solely to his ability to field a ground ball, enters Saturday's game as a late-inning defensive replacement and boots a ground ball that opens the door to a Dodger comeback.

After Angels outfielder Jose Guillen effectively is fired, a sportscaster asks reliever Francisco (K-Rod) Rodriguez if he will call Guillen. K-Rod says he won't because he doesn't have Guillen's number.

Art Howe is fired as manager of the New York Mets, but stays on to lead the troops through the final 17 games of the season. No doubt the players have the utmost respect for his authority over the final 2 1/2 weeks of the season.

You couldn't make up the stuff that happens to the Cubs this year. They are screwed up this much: They enter the final weekend of the season so concerned with competing for the NL wild card that their manager and general manager decide to spend some time before Friday's game in a closed-door meeting with the team's television broadcasters.

One of the broadcasters, color guy Steve Stone (the color is usually beige), takes more heat for criticizing Corey Patterson's failure to get down an important bunt than Patterson does for the failure.

Kent Mercker, one of the team's relief pitchers and a budding media critic, brings attention to the criticism because he is watching late innings on television in the clubhouse after being ejected from the game. He calls the press box, during the game, and tells the team's public relations director to take care of the problem.

Is that a full moon?

And how do you explain Sammy Sosa, the one-man Mardi Gras? He starts his weekend by being interviewed by New York City cops about his cousin's alleged involvement in an attempted murder, then finishes it off on Sunday with a turn of events that would be dumbfounding if it hadn't been so perfectly ... Cub.

After hearing that manager Dusty Baker says he needs to work hard in the offseason and be more of a factor next year than his .253 batting average allowed him to be this year, Sosa takes his $17 million-a-year salary and goes home. Sammy says he left in the seventh inning, but Wrigley Field surveillance cameras show he departed 15 minutes into the game.

That's right -- they brought in the surveillance cameras, proving one thing beyond a doubt: This was one of the best weeks in sports history.

This Week's List

  • Predictions from the world's worst predictor: 1.) Cardinals over Dodgers in four; 2.) Braves over the Astros in five; 3.) Twins over the Yankees in five; 4.) Red Sox over the Angels in four.

  • One glaring lesson from the final two weeks of the baseball season: The difference between the pretenders and the contenders -- eighth-inning setup men and closers.

  • Case in point: Giants -- negative; Astros and Dodgers -- positive.

  • Despite one of the predictions you read above, here's one guy who might take his team through this weekend and beyond: Astros closer Brad Lidge, whose stuff is what the old-timers call "electric."

  • In the unlikely case you find yourself in the position of needing one team to win one game for you to make the postseason, there's one team you need to stay away from at all costs: The Colorado Rockies, where playoff dreams are made and dashed, depending on your perspective.

  • With the Steelers 3-1 and in first place, a question: Has anyone asked Alan Faneca if he's, like, excited about his rookie quarterback yet?

  • Just for the heck of it: Matt "The Scat" Alexander.

  • And finally, if you ever find yourself on the same team with Kobe Bryant, a piece of advice: Since you know not the time nor the place, it's best to keep your personal life personal, just in case.

    Tim Keown is a senior writer for ESPN The Magazine.




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