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Monday, August 25, 2003
Page 2 Quickie: August 22, 2003

The Lead Item
Two Words For You:

To critics of "Little League TV": Fans watch precisely because of amazing games like Thursday night's 14-13 thriller, Saugus (Mass.) advancing past Richmond (Tex.) to the U.S. final.

* Wild lead swings and clutch hits: Saugus blew an 8-run lead before rallying for the winning four runs in bottom of the 7th.

* Controversial calls: Looks like Richmond was robbed on the decisive -- and debatable -- ump's call at first.

* And, of course, the tears: Of suspense, of disappointment, of joy -- showing emotion isn't exploitative; its intensity is raw, but also rare and refreshing.

However things turn out for the last four teams this weekend (Japan, N. Antilles, Saugus and Boynton Beach, Fla.), the LLWS always captures fans' attention like no one thinks it will because its emotion is the closest that sports get to reality TV.

NL MVP: Bonds
Like an election, let's prematurely (but accurately) call this National League MVP race: It's over, and Barry Bonds just walked off with it.

Today's contrast between Bonds and Albert Pujols is as loud as the Pac Bell crowd Thursday night, when Bonds hit his second last-gasp, extra-inning, game-winning home run -- of the series. As for the invisible Pujols, don't you have to play to have a hit streak?

College Kickoff
Forget college football's BCS equation. Here's the only playoff formula you need: Just don't lose. College football's regular season is a de facto playoff. Everyone starts the season unbeaten; so for contenders, it's less about accumulating wins, and more about avoiding that one title-killing L.

By that theory: No. 5 Kansas State gets the first crack to blow their season with an opener Saturday that's no gimme -- home vs. Cal.

Kobe Watch
Wow, Bryant judge "Steady Freddy" Gannett is cagey: Knowing he couldn't hold off the media's demand for details, he threw them a bone -- unsealing the arrest warrant -- but gave both sets of lawyers two weeks to appeal his decision, diffusing the potential frenzy. It's going to be hard to say Kobe won't get a fair shot with "Judge Can-It."

Sampras' Retirement
Pete may be the greatest player ever and deserving of a super retirement party, but doesn't the timing at the U.S. Open just magnify that the men's game is so lacking in star wattage that "Celebrate Sampras" will be tournament's highlight?

NCAA: Brand Mgmt
Let NCAA president Myles Brand put it best: "Metaphorically speaking," the AP quotes, "it's almost as if there's a crime wave out there." (Ironically, same day Wisconsin announced policy to suspend any athlete who gets arrested ... no, ya think?)

But what's Brand really going to do about it? Ultra-harsh sanctions may help deter problems, but would end up hurting innocent student-athletes more than skeevy coaches and administrators. Solution: Hit schools where it really hurts -- the wallet.

Meanwhile: If the St. Bonaventure board chairman really did commit suicide from being upset over the school's problems, college scandals' toll just got infinitely worse.

Clarett Decision?
All signs point toward a couple-games sit-down, which should be enough to mollify critics, keep Clarett in school -- and give Ohio State's team/fans an excuse when they lose.