By Tim Keown
At times there's a certain poetic justice in numbers, like God just decided he needed a good laugh and threw something out there to see if anyone else would notice.
On Monday morning, you could open your newspaper to the standings and see the following:
Weren't these guys supposed to be breaking records?
Texas Rangers: 11-8
New York Yankees: 8-11
This Week's List The time is coming ... tick, tick, tick: Isn't it time for A-Rod's problems at the plate to be attributed to position change, which might make the Yankees raise the possibility of moving their second-best shortstop -- Jeter, by a mile -- to second or third? There are those fortunate few who can defy cliché and, indeed, fool all of the people all of the time: Danny Fortson, still collecting a hefty check. If they don't watch out, we're all going to lose our faith in the purity of track and field: The San Francisco Chronicle reports that BALCO chief Victor Conte told investigators he provided steroids to Marion Jones and Tim Montgomery, among others. Just for the heck of it: Billy Paultz. If he'd only asked: I would have given Gary Coleman his 10 grand with 20-percent interest due in full in 60 days, and then maybe we wouldn't all be repeatedly subjected to him doing that talk-and-walk in his best Gap getup. The San Francisco Giants have provided us with a reason to ask the age-old question: Does a team's management owe it to a superstar player to put a serviceable product on the field around him? Because, if the answer is yes, the reality is this: This year, the Giants have failed Barry Bonds, and failed him miserably. Then again: If you operate under the principle that fans will continue to spend their money to see Bonds reach milestones and break records, you don't have to care about the team. Something for Steve Nash to consider: Dirk Nowitzki being guarded by Mike Bibby cutting to the hoop is a better bet than you being guarded by Peja Stojakovic beyond the three-point line. Kind of like the old third-place game in the NCAA Tournament: Just to add insult to insult, why don't the Celtics and Knicks -- two paragons of fortitude -- play a seven-game series for comic relief? What the Rockets' offense must look like to Yao: Keep-Away.
When not making awkward signals to his wife, Doug Christie puts his hands to good use.
This year's playoff shocker: Jackie Christie, the recipient of all those Tourettic hand signals, getting herself on camera when her husband Doug was interviewed after Game 4 in Dallas. Revealed! The secrets of the L.A. Lakers' training staff: Shaq, endorsing Icy Hot Back Patch. Just a thought: Do you think when Shaq and Tiger go out on the town in Tiger's Buick, Shaq slaps on an Icy Hot Back Patch before leaving the crib? Two pitchers whose considerable talents are overshadowed by the company they keep: Carl Pavano and Matt Clement. They showed it so often it started looking like Gary Coleman whining about lost money: Karl Malone and his torn jersey in Game 4 against the Rockets. The only good thing about Malone's torn jersey: It provided ABC with a reason -- a flimsy one, but who cares? -- to show old footage of Jeff Van Gundy latching on to Alonzo Mourning's leg. By the way: Doesn't Malone look like this year's Guy Who Will Do Anything For a Championship, including alienating (for life) everyone he plays against? Like watching a mosquito buzz around a museum: Tony Parker, navigating the Spurs' tediously effective offense. With what they gave up, the man better be able to sell some jerseys and T-shirts: Eli Manning. If you tuned in for the final five minutes of Game 4, you'll understand: Granted, Chris Webber is injured, but watching him play is probably more painful for the viewer than the actual playing is for Webber. The view from a non-orthopedist: I know it's Webber's knee that's bothering him, but he's moving like it's his back. Which leads, of course, to the obvious conclusion: He might want to talk to Shaq about a patch. You can say what you want about the Eastern Conference, but remember this: Next round, Kenyon Martin vs. Rasheed Wallace.
Tim Keown is a senior writer for ESPN The Magazine.