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Monday, August 18, 2003
Updated: August 19, 10:06 AM ET
Page 2 Quickie: August 15, 2003


 
The Lead Item
Two Words For You:
VALUABLE.  MATCHUPS.

Forget "Freddy vs. Jason:" The week's end is loaded with much bigger battles, like "Albert vs. Barry."

With Pujols' hit streak at 28 (and counting) and Bonds going on the bereavement list, let's take stock of the tight NL MVP race. Bonds is better, but here are three external factors that will help AP:

* Hit-streak pub: Highly overrated (i.e., a 162-game hit streak, going 1-for-4 every game, nets you all of a .250 average), but it's a natural sound-bite bullet-point for Pujols' MVP platform.

* Scoreboard watching: With the Cards in a NL Central menage a trois, Pujols' team will be at the top of every highlight show; Bonds is actually hamstrung by leading his team to a ho-hum division runaway.

* "Bonds fatigue": BB could win the MVP every year (and pretty much has), leading voters to think, "Sure, Barry's awesome, but let's give someone else a turn."

Lefty vs. Destiny
There's already an unfair volume of Mickelson-haters out there (saying that as a fan), but his strong first-day showing at the PGA Championship must be discounted until an actual got-to-see-it-to-believe-it first-place finish on Sunday. Any Rodney Pampling can have a good opening round (except, apparently, Tiger Woods).

'Stros vs. Cards vs. Cubs
NL Central Standings, 8/15/03:
Team       W  L GB
Houston   64 57 --
St. Louis 64 57 --
Chicago   63 57 .5

'Nuff said.

Vick vs. Lewis
The NFL's best players on either side of the ball may only be on the field together this weekend for a few snaps, but don't think "preseason" will keep Ray Lewis from giving Mike Vick a "Week 12"-style lick.

Skate vs. Surf
Most popular event of the X Games? The newest: surfing, and not just because it's ultra-trendy. It's arguably the most visually stunning sport anywhere -- and that's just the participants. (This matchup is more accurately labeled: Baggy shorts vs. Bikinis. No contest.)

Freddy vs. World
14-year-old U.S. soccer prodigy Freddy Adu's hat trick Thursday at the Under-17 World Championships underscores this: Like no other U.S. athlete,

Adu carries the entire weight of his sport's future. He can single-handedly lead soccer to "major" status in the U.S., but not for three years -- when 17-year-old Freddy delivers the U.S. a World Cup title in 2006.

AI vs. Kobe
Want a template for talking your way out of Kobe Bryant jury duty? "... You can go get Allen Iverson because Allen Iverson's had brushes with the law before. But to go get Kobe Bryant -- the squeaky clean human being -- it's got to be something." -- Allen Iverson, SportsCenter Sunday Conversation.