June 26, 2006
College World Series:
It's winner-take-all tonight in a must-see (ESPN, 7 ET) after Oregon St. tied the best-of-3 series 1-1 with UNC using a monster 7-run 4th-inning Sunday.
The Lead Item
Two Words For You:

With the mastermind behind the Knicks fan draft-night protest at Madison Square Garden in a SportsNation chat today (1 p.m. ET), it's a good moment to run down my top 5 protests related to this year's NBA draft:

5. No clear-cut No. 1 pick! A direct result of the NBA deciding that high school players aren't ready for the league. Which is why prep Greg Oden would have been the consensus No. 1 player, right? An age limit makes no sense when the player being kept out would be the draft's biggest star.

4. Morrison/Redick overrated! The two college players of the year are surrounded by questions. For Morrison, it's whether he will find a scoring touch in the more athletic NBA; for Redick, it's how far he might fall (Chad Ford's latest mock has him slipping from the top 10 into the 20s.)

3. MJ is a bad GM! The last time Michael Jordan had a high-profile draft pick, he took Kwame Brown. Managing the Bobcats' No. 3 spot, he'll have an equally impossible choice between Thomas, Aldridge, Morrison, Roy and Gay, after the Bulls have their say and...

2. Raptors: Make me care! At the top of the draft, they control everything. If they take Italian 7-footer Andrea Bargnani, the Bulls have a ton of options. If the Raptors take one of the top collegians, it throws the rest of the top 5 into disarray. Who wants Bargnani?

1. "We're all Knicks fans!" If there's a way to make the back half of an otherwise weak first round interesting, it's the moment the Knicks pick at No. 29, when the Garden will turn into Isiah's (and the NBA's) worst PR nightmare.

Of all the night's scouting reports, I want the one about how fast the protesters can run the 40 when the police start chasing them, in the biggest draft-night melee of all time!

World Cup: Foul!
"A Time to Make Friends," the World Cup's motto, could not possibly have been less appropriate than Sunday:

The ref (see DQ'd) handed out a record-breaking 4 red cards and a record-tying 11 yellows.

(The 4 reds gave this year's World Cup a new record, 23 in just 53 matches, with half of the 2nd round and the rest still to go.)

Embarrassment? Only for Holland, which was on the losing side of the 1-0 card-o-rama with Portugal. Otherwise, a Cup so heavy on carding was due for an avalanche like this one.

The volume of cards Sunday might have been excessive (whistling fans thought so), but consider the alternative of players obliterating each other, with a wallflower ref allowing them to do it.

Meanwhile, 4 reds and 11 yellows might be a good place to start for an over/under for today's match between Italy and Australia.

The Socceroos are among the field's most brutish teams, while the Italians are the biggest floppers in addition to being the biggest whiners.

AI to Celtics?
Want to see some hysteria? Wait for today's sports-news cycle to digest the rumors that the Celtics are considering a trade for Allen Iverson (via Boston Globe).

They're just that: Rumors. But it's hard to see the sense in the move, which seems like someone's idea of fun draft-week gossip. (Is the Celtics' draft looking that lame?)

Minnesota: 3 state natives taken in NHL draft top 10
Ben Curtis: '03 Brit Open champ leading Booz Allen (susp.)
Bernard Lagat: 1st in U.S. to win 1,500m and 5K nat'l titles
David Riske: Ozzie's pitching "DH" drops suspension appeal
Brett Myers: Phillies P arrested Friday, booed on Saturday
NL: 64-103 in interleague play through Sunday; it's a rout
For starters, Boston already has a gunner who shoots too much: Paul Pierce.

How could Iverson and Pierce possibly coexist on the court? Iverson makes former Pierce playmate Antoine Walker look shy about shooting.

(As far as deals for AI go -- and the Sixers should definitely trade him -- I like the trade to Atlanta. The Hawks will get only slightly better, but they will get infinitely more exciting to follow.)

Wimbledon Preview
You can read an explanation of how to beat Roger Federer.

You can recognize that the retiring Andre Agassi's last appearance will eclipse Federer.

But, in the end, as tennis' Grand Slam moves to Wimby's fast grass after Roland Garros' sluggish clay, the only reasonable conclusion is that Federer will win again.

Baker: Not Quitting
Dusty: "I don't know what's going to happen, but I can tell you right now I'm not quitting. I've never quit anything in my life. I'm not going to start now," Baker told USA Today.

...But maybe he should: The Cubs managed just 1 run over 2 weekend games and lost for the 10th time in 12 games, despite the return of Derrek Lee after missing the last 59 games. He was 1-4 with 2 K's.

MLB Hit List
Griffey passes Schmidt: Junior needs 14 more HRs to catch Reggie Jackson and crack the top-10 all-time list.

Meanwhile, in the here and now, Griffey and Dunn each hit a 2-run HR to spoil the debut of highly touted Indians rookie Jeremy Sowers. (Nope, he ain't helping the Tribe recover, either.)

Anibal Sanchez beats Yanks: The Marlins SP (called up from Double-A on Saturday to make a Sunday start) became the 10th Florida player this season to make his MLB debut (and 20th rookie used).

5.2 IP later, Sanchez salvaged a Marlins split at a Yankee Stadium doubleheader. His zero walks was most impressive. (Only looking now to see if he's available on your fantasy waiver wire? You might be too late.)

O's sign Russ Ortiz: They weren't looking at his 0-5, 7.54 ERA numbers; they were looking at his $327K signing price (prorated!), affordable because the D-Backs are eating the $22 million payout they still owe him.

All-Star voting update: Between Robinson Cano's injury and Tadahito Iguchi's 7 RBI, can we please have a last-minute push to bump Cano from the starting 2B spot on the AL All-Star team for Iguchi, who hit a 3-run HR in the 8th and a grand slam in the 9th on Sunday?

More World Cup
Beckham bends it: For those still figuring out if David Beckham is overrated or simply over-the-hill, he silenced his critics with a sick, game-deciding free kick over the Ecuadoran wall.

Goal of the tournament: Argentina's Maxi Rodriguez's game-winner in OT had both soccer mavens and casual fans cheering after his one-timer, bouncing the ball off his chest, right onto his foot for a blast to the far post to beat Mexico.

Picking Today's K.O. Matches:
Italy over Australia
Ukraine over Switzerland
(Knockout round record: 2-2)

Wild Must-See Video
Minor league manager gone wild!

Asheville's Joe Mikulik showed it all in going off the deep end. Let's rank the crazy:

5. Face-to-face ump curse-out
4. Uproot (and chuck) a base
3. Throw bats from dugout
2. Kick dirt on the ump's hem
1a. Kick dirt over home plate
1b. Pour water on home plate, reconsidering his earlier dirtying of it, cleaning it off so he could squat behind and pantomime the ump.

Note, however, that the only thing Mikulik did not do was touch the ump. Because that would have been, you know, too much.

Heat Parade
Surprising everyone, it turned out that the Heat star that was the biggest dance hit of the team's victory celebration on Friday was...

Pat Riley!

Wait: Glossy Riley? GQ Riley? Aching body of a 90-year-old Riley?

Not only did he dance, but he did it well, shaking his hips and keeping rhythm like he was ready to set up a pole and start collecting dollars to sign the next crop of free agents he'll need to defend Miami's title.

Valentin Ivanov:
I'm not as ready as others to crush the Russian World Cup ref, but his sheer volume of red cards (significantly impacting the England-Portugal quarterfinal) could keep HIM from moving on.
Today on ESPN.com
Quickie Live
Page 2 Index
World Cup
Bilas' Best Available
Tyrus Thomas
Amare-like upside?
Brandon Roy
Best all-around
Andrea Bargnani
But stop with Dirk comps
Rudy Gay
In NBA, athleticism matters
Adam Morrison
Should be able to score

Biggest question for the NFL's annual rookie symposium on adapting to the pro life: Does Santonio Holmes get his own panel or what?

The shocker in Chad Ford's 4th edition of his must-read NBA mock draft? J.J. Redick slips from the top 10 to the Nets at No. 22.

More NBA: Does Gilbert Arenas want out of D.C.? Even though he's beloved there, his agent says he wants to play for a contender. Wiz? Not yet.

Are IndyCar and Champ Car to merge into an open-wheel megasport? Not "mega," but a merger helps the sport cut out the confusion with casual fans.

Good weekend for Jeff Gordon, who got engaged Saturday to model Ingrid Vanderbosch, then capped it with a win at Infineon on Sunday.

More NHL draft: The 10 Americans taken in the 1st round (led by No. 1 overall pick Erik Johnson, by St. Louis) was a new record. Take that, Canada!

If Warren Buffett wants to throw any of his $37-some billion this way, I wouldn't turn him down. I'm just saying...

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