June 30, 2004
Spider-Man 2:
A couple of phenomena this week already: F9/11, Sharapova; neither will be bigger than the summer's hugest movie.
The Lead Item
Two Words For You:

The most beautiful sound I ever heard ... All the beautiful sounds of the world in a single word: Maria. -- "West Side Story"

Maria Sharapova isn't even 18, so the panting over her is more than a little ... skeevy.

I just met a girl named Maria. And suddenly that name will never be the same to me: Maria.

The lecher community (also known as "the media") probably already has the date circled, but her birthday is April 19. Not that I'm Googling her ... uncomfortable silence ... Uh, can we move on?

Say it loud and there's music playing ... Say it soft and it's almost like praying: Maria.

It's a "Sharapova Side Story" at Wimbledon. Side story? Forget that: She's the story. Sharapova has eclipsed Serena as the star of TV and the tabloids.

Her Wimbledon run gets even more intriguing Thursday with a semifinal matchup with Lindsay Davenport, who has never been adapted to music:

I'll never stop saying "Maria." The most beautiful sound I ever heard: Maria!

Serena vs. Jenny
An old sports saw is that one of the hardest things to do is beat a team three times in one season. After getting two thumpings from Jenny earlier this year, Serena came back with the nasty stuff today, crushing Capriati 6-1, 6-1 (ouch!) to advance to the semis.

You know it's all a set-up for the titanic Serena-Maria finale, as long as Davenport understands to get out of the way. (OK, I'm done with the Maria stuff today. I swear.)

Yanks Blast Sox
Boston's 6-1 record vs New York in April sure feels like a long time ago. More relevant? 0-1 since then, after last night's 11-3 shellacking in the Bronx.

Underachievers' Triple Crown:

(1) Mediocre pitching
Same-old, same-old from Lowe (5.47 ERA)

(2) Mediocre defense
Three errors, leading to 4 unearned runs

(2) Mediocre hitting
10Ks, 1BB: OBP-focused? Hardly

Six-and-a-half games back:
And counting ... the Red Sox are two more losses away from panic. No? It's here already?

Randy Johnson: Hits 4K K plateau; only 4th P to get there
Portugal: Want fan passion? See Euro 2004 semi vs. Dutch
Kirsten Dunst: May never match S-M1's rain kiss, but ... wow
Nomar: E-6 leads to NY run, fan chant: "Thank you, Nomar!"
Sidney Ponson: Tagged with 8th straight L; O's ace? Hardly
Jerome Young: Top sports court says take away his Oly gold
NBA Free Agency
Biggest question: Which team will be on the phone with Kobe at midnight tonight, the earliest that teams can directly start wooing players?

I picture it like trying to win a radio contest, with competing GMs constantly hitting "re-dial" after getting a busy signal.

Expos Relocation
The two D.C.-area locations are reportedly the leading contenders, but whoever it ends up being will be off to a stumbling start: MLB is making a huge mistake by delaying the announcement until after the All-Star break.

With all sports fan attention on baseball for three days, the ASB is the perfect platform to introduce the new city. Sounds like MLB simply doesn't have its act together. After years of working on this deal, they can't time the ending right?

T-Mac Trade: Finally!
It's official: But in the week since the rumor first started, the Magic-Rockets swap has been dissected enough already. For those coming late to the party, a classic Quickie primer:

Yao/T-Mac best combo in NBA?
Not if T-Mac shoots too much.

Key to Francis' OK to Orlando?
If he gets to shoot a lot.

MLB Today/Tonight
I was debating yesterday with my editor about the eight baseball playoff teams which would create the most fan interest. Coincidentally (or not), five play today on ESPN:

Astros at Cubs (2:15, ESPN2)
Clemens goes for win No. 11

Red Sox at Yankees (7, ESPN)
Could Boston fall 7 1/2 back?

Giants at Dodgers (10, ESPN2)
Anything Bonds makes great TV

The other three teams?
W-Sox, A's, Phillies

Hot/Not: Summer
Can you believe the year is half-freakin'-over already? A little cool-hunting for the summer season:

Hot: Kobe Clippers No. 8
Not: Retro anything

Dude, she's only 18
Hot: Maria Sharapova
Not: Mary-Kate Olsen

Check Page 2 for a complete list.

Jason Giambi:
Sick with a parasite? Insert your own joke about New York City here.
Today on ESPN.com
Page 2: Hot/not for summer
Top NBA free agents
MLB: Rumor Central
Top 5 lefties of all time
Sandy Koufax
Just stop arguing otherwise
Randy Johnson
How long can he keep going?
Warren Spahn
Anti-Koufax: Longevity matters
Lefty Grove
Higher win pct. than Johnson
Steve Carlton
About to drop on K list

The Bandwagon's Mo List isn't enough in this case: Randy's 4,000 Ks are awe-inspiring; cements him as a Top 3-ever lefty ...

"Doc Ock" is one of the coolest villain nicknames ever. Which athlete will be first to get it? Easy: A's closer Octavio Dotel ...

Want some great analysis of the Yankees-Red Sox series? Check out Neyer and Olney's columns in today's front-page package ...

Maybe they should be called the L.A. Leakers: First Phil, then Shaq, maybe Kobe, now Tex Winter. Wooed by Ohio St., Jim Cleamons next? ...

Manu Ginobili apparently hasn't gotten the memo: Wants a long-term deal with the Spurs; doesn't he know they're waiting on Kobe? ...

Surfers already get all the girls; now they get all the fake girls? "Blaine," an Australian surfer-dude, is Barbie's new guy ...

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