June 8, 2004
Lightning super-vet
Dave Andreychuk:

Always worth celebrating a little harder when a longtime player (22 seasons!) finally wins a championship. And probably a lot sweeter.
The Lead Item
Two Words For You:

Today is hockey's "Day After Tomorrow."

The NHL is about to enter an "Ice Age," and that's not some catchy new marketing slogan. That offseason full of massive problems that everyone has talked about all season long? It starts now.

Can there even be an "offseason" if there's no season to turn back "on?" this fall? Because that's what the league (and its players) are looking at when they try to stare each other down during labor negotiations.

Radical solutions are necessary: Financially, players need to get over themselves and accept a salary cap. Competitively, the league must make the regular-season more meaningful, the action more dramatic.

It's no coincidence that fans started tuning in to this exciting, underrated Cup series (contrary to critics' prediction) once the games became consequential.

There it is: The NHL has four months to make itself consequential ... or face some nasty consequences.

NBA Finals: Game 2
"We know what we have to do. I know I have to get up in the morning and put my underwear on first and then put my pants on. I don't need people to tell me that."
-- Shaquille O'Neal on Monday

Yes, but the rest of the Lakers skipped the pants thing and went right to being given the atomic wedgie. Phil Jackson is a Hall of Fame motivator but has never been an Xs and Os master like Pistons counterpart Larry Brown; too bad motivation can't make jump shots go in.

Given that Games 3-5 are in Detroit, tonight qualifies as a "must win" for the Lakers. (9 p.m. ET, ABC)

Parcells' Slur
Bill Parcells is one of few super coaches arrogant enough to qualify an apology with the equivalent of But it's your fault, stupid. Read and judge (italics are mine):

Nomah: Working out today; team to determine health status
Tommy Maddox: PIT QB gets an ext through '07 (yeah, right)
Jesse Palmer: Took only starter snaps of season on Monday
Jason Kidd: Knee status (and possible surgery) uncertain
Serena: Out of women's top 10 for first time in 5 years
David Hasselhoff: Arrested for susp. of DUI this weekend
"Today during my news conference I made a very inappropriate reference, and although I prefaced it with the remark, 'no disrespect to anyone intended,' it was still uncalled for and inconsiderate. For that I apologize to anyone who may have been offended."

MLB Draft
Salary caps for the NFL and NBA draftees allow for teams to take the best available player. Only MLB -- infused with "Moneyball" mania -- has a draft where budget-minded teams at the top add a sixth tool to the best players -- signability -- and take a pass on bigger talents.

Kudos to the Padres for avoiding a classic Boras-reaming and passing on Boras clients Jered Weaver (Long Beach State P) and Stephen Drew (Florida State SS) and taking local prep shortstop Matt Bush, who was cheaper and actually excited to play for the team.

BCS Watch
Adding a fifth BCS bowl (which last year I coined as "The Cinderella Bowl") is a great move, but the execution of a post-BCS title game is riddled with questions.

Here's the simplest one, which I have yet to hear a good any answer for:

How, exactly, will a post-BCS title game ensure that there will be no controversy over the two participants any more -- or worse! -- than the current system?

Then and Now
Sports' best day is today.

That's not just a foundation of this column, but also a core belief of mine. Critics label it "instant history"; I say that it simply reflects the era we're living in.

By extension, the past 25 years (the "ESPN Era") is, by far, the Golden Era of sports. The 1920s? The 1940s? The 1960s? Combined, not even close to 1979 through today.

Begin to relive the Best Years of Sports Ever tonight, with the ESPN25 celebration "Then and Now." (7-9 p.m. ET, ESPN)

And while you're at it, don't forget to check out ESPN.com's countdown of the 100 most memorable moments of the past 25 years.

Gary Payton:
Fined $5K by NBA ... drumbeat of criticism from local, national media. You can see what's coming right? They're going to scapegoat the Glove!
Today on ESPN.com
Page 2: Tortured Cities - Chicago
MLB Draft: Analysis
Stark: Useless Info
Legends of SCTV
Eugene Levy
Writer, actor, Olsen co-star
John Candy
10X funnier than Farley
Martin Short
circa early (funny) Short
Catherine O'Hara
See any Guest movie
McKenzie Brothers, eh?

Someone help me figure out why replacing a scoring PG (Bibby) with a non-scoring rebounder (Boozer) makes sense for Olympic hoops ...

Raptors GM choice questionable: Minny personnel guru Rob Babcock had an open checkbook and no draft choices. Hello: Track record? ...

NBA pre-draft camp starts today in Chicago. Don't expect much (except Chad Ford's dispatches); big stars won't actually play ...

Griffey Watch: No HRs Monday (Who else can't believe we're actually on a "Griffey Watch?" 500 will do that to you) ...

Tomorrow's pop culture reference today: "Blow Out," that new hair-salon reality show on Bravo, may be a good Lakers-Pistons theme ...

Must-have DVD: SCTV, which spawned so much comedy and comedians to qualify for some kind of Hilarity Hall of Fame ...

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