Monday, August 25, 2003
Extra Point/ESPN Sportsbeat Aug. 1-15, 2003
Here's the text of commentaries heard regularly on ESPNRadio:
Wingo: Niner pains
THURSDAY, AUGUST 14, 2003
Extra Point A.M. -- Trey Wingo: "It's still early in preseason but new Niners head coach Dennis Erickson may have more trouble than he thought he would this season. Starting quarterback Jeff Garcia hasn't practiced in over a week and won't play in the Niners second preseason game tonight. Much like he didn't play in the first and the reason for all of this is the worse news. Garcia has a bulging disc in his back, a condition he describes as "degenerative". The Niners say he should be ready for the season opener against the Bears but Garcia himself doesn't sound as convinced. Already needing two epidurals to ease the pain, he's also seeking the help of a back specialist. Making all this worse. Garcia is not a big guy, he's 33 and he's a mobile active passer. Mobile and active, two things a bad back will absolutely put an end to. The Niners have been down this road before. Joe Montana had back problems but San Fran had this guy named Steve Young waiting in the wings. Tim Rattay is no Steve young. If Garcia's back is bad, the NFC west champs may be done before they've even played a game."
Extra Point P.M. -- John Anderson: "Happy as can be for the folks in Kansas City after the Royals crushing win over the Yankees on Wednesday. Thrilled for the Missourians on the western border that their team took two of three from the Pinstripped Millionaires club. Baseball is back in KC and once again nearly as popular as barbeque. The Royals finally winning their way back into the hearts of the fans and bringing them back to the ballpark. It's been awhile... no Big League city took a bigger hit from the '94 players strike than Kansas City... those people were angry and vowed not to return to the ballpark... they held fast to that stance too. Took nearly a decade and a winner for them to forgive the game and get over the insulting tag of "small market." K-C was a great baseball town and Kaufmann, then Royals, Stadium was a magic place until the work stoppage. Great teams, great yard, great atmosphere, great battles with the Yankees. If the Royals finish off the season with a division title... great... but it's already been wonderful year."
Sportsbeat -- Brent Musburger: "The nervous whispers you're hearing out of the San Francisco Bay Area are coming from 49ers camp, where quarterback Jeff Garcia's back is a major concern. For the moment, the Niners are downplaying the severity of Garcia's back injury, saying that if it were a regular season game, he'd be playing. But anytime you talk a back injury, you worry. Because of that bulging disc, Garcia will NOT be playing in tonight's preseason game at Candlestick Park against the Oakland Raiders, and there is the chance he may not play at all in the preseason. Not the way new coach Dennis Erickson wants to begin his run with the Niners. Remember, more than a few eyebrows were raised this off-season when San Francisco handed a playoff team over to Erickson, who didn't exactly distinguish himself in his first run as a head coach in Seattle. If Garcia is down for a significant stretch of time, Erickson could get off to a slow start in Frisco as well, because there isn't any experience behind Garcia on the depth chart. Four-year man Tim Rattay is the top backup, but he's yet to start an NFL game. You can bet, though, that Erickson will get a good long look at Rattay tonight."
"You think George Steinbrenner is sweating these days? Over 180 million dollars in payroll, and over the last three weeks, his Yankees have taken on four potential playoff teams-the Red Sox, A's, Mariners and over the last three days, the Kansas City Royals-and lost series to all four. Tonight, Andy Pettitte gets the ball at Camden Yards against the Orioles, and you will find few guys pitching any better than Pettitte is these days. In his last two starts, Pettitte has given up only three runs over 17 innings. Problem is-New York has won neither of those games, and that about sums up the frustration right now in Joe Torre's world. And we don't think it's a stretch to say that if the Yankees spotty play continues into October-or worse, keeps them out of the playoffs altogether-we could be watching Torre's last few months in the Yankee dugout."
Wilson: Rose reporting
WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 13, 2003
Extra Point A.M. -- Chuck Wilson: "Major League Baseball denies the report, so does Pete Rose's business agent. Let's hope both sides are telling the truth. The Baseball Prospectus claims that Pete Rose has signed a deal with Major League Baseball that will remove Rose from baseball's permanently ineligible list without his having to admit to any wrong-doing. Such an agreement would be a joke and I can't believe Commissioner Selig would have any part in it. Pete Rose doesn't get it and never has. The evidence is clear he bet on baseball and clear that he bet on his own team, yet Pete probably would pass a lie detector test saying he's never done anything to hurt baseball. Society may not view gambling as evil but baseball must. The ban is strict for a reason. The sports' integrity can not be brought into question. We must believe the game is being decided on the field free of outside influence. Pete Rose should never manage again and his name should not come off the ineligible list until he makes a full disclosure of his baseball gambling and finally comes to understand that his actions damaged the credibility of the sport he loves."
Extra Point P.M. -- Chris Moore: "The Jets announced this week that they are charging those die hard fans that want to be on the season ticket waiting list $50 per year to stay on that list. How does the club defend this policy. Well, team president Jay Cross was quoted as saying "We want to give them value and treat them like valued customers even though they're in waiting" end quote. I mean how low can you go. This is the greatest rip-off in the history of pro sports, and let me say there have been plenty. This fee by the way is not just an annual pay for nothing event, but is also not, I repeat, not, a deposit on season tickets. It's just a charge, a fee for the privilege of being on the list. Where are we headed? Maybe we will get to a point where they will charge you for waiting online at the restroom. Two bucks to wait in the concession line. Five bucks to drive by the stadium when there is a game going on. J-E-T-S. GREED GREED GREED."
Sportsbeat -- Brent Musburger: "He still ranks second on the 2003 money list, and he does have four wins under his belt for the year, but maybe Tiger Woods is human after all. He's had the knee surgery, he is NOT amongst the longest drivers on the tour, and of course, there is the five-major losing streak. Tiger can downplay it all he wants, but clearly he is measured by different standards, and if he fails to win the PGA Championship this weekend at Oak Hill in the sticky humidity of Rochester, New York, it'll be the first year since '98 that Woods goes home winless in the majors. Perhaps breaking Jack Nicklaus' mark of 18 major titles is proving to be tougher than Tiger thought. And Woods will likely have a tough go of it this weekend in trying to separate himself from a deep U.S. field. Remember, over the years, the PGA Championship has been the backdrop for some real Cinderella victories, whether it was John Daly's out-of-nowhere win over a decade ago, or Rich Beem's victory just last year. And the PGA has also been the place where several stars have picked up their first major win-golfers like Nick Price and Davis Love. So for that reason, yes, keep an eye this weekend on Phil Mickelson."
"The race looks to be well over in the National League West, but there is ANOTHER race for first place Giants fans-Barry Bonds versus Albert Pujols for the N.L. MVP. If you look for a first place team to supply your winner, then sure, Bonds right now is your guy. He hit two more home runs last night at Shea Stadium, leaving him ten away from tying the 660 mark of his godfather Willie Mays. And if you go back in time exactly two years ago to this date, you'll note that Bonds has hit 106 home runs since that day. Significant, because that is the very same number of home runs he needs to break the all-time mark set by Henry Aaron."
Schaap: Brussels sprouting
TUESDAY, AUGUST 12, 2003
Extra Point A.M. -- Jeremy Schaap: "With the news that she's ascended to the No. 1 ranking, Kim Clijsters may in fact have erased one of the great embarrassments of her homeland. Until Monday, when Clijsters supplanted Serena Williams at the top of the women's tennis rankings, Belgium's most accomplished citizen was probably still Hercule Poirot, the great detective, who of course was a figment of Agatha Christie's imagination. Now Belgium is famous for more than a fictional private eye; it's now famous as more than the site of two of the most important battles in history -- Waterloo and the Battle of the Bulge. Now Belgium joins a short list of nations that have produced the top female tennis player on planet earth -- the U.S., West Germany, Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, Switzerland and Spain. Ominously for a nation overrun twice in the last century, three of those six countries no longer exist -- West Germany, Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia. Maybe it would be in Belgium's best interest if Serena gets healthy."
Extra Point P.M. -- Dan Davis: "Two weeks before the first volleys at Wimbledon this summer, the Association of Tennis Professionals delivered a strong threat to that venerable tournament and ALL the grand slams. The male players demanded a 150% increase in prize money, among other things and threatened to set up and play in ALTERNATIVE tournaments if the grand slams failed to meet their demands. We are now less than two weeks from the first volley at the US Open and we hear nary a PEEP out of the ATP. Would have been fun to watch. A collection of spoiled brats biting off their beaks to spite their kissers. It was a wonderful prospect. But with the US Open approaching, nobody's talking about alternative tournaments at the moment. It's one thing to make idle threats about tournaments in Australia and Paris...but quite another with the US Open straight ahead. Tennis pros engaged in a damaging breakup about 20 years ago...but they were never foolish enough to challenge the grand slams. Those events will still be going strong long after ATP stands for Association of Tire Pumps."
Sportsbeat -- Brent Musburger: "Hand him the award today. Even if the Kansas City Royals do not win another game this year, Tony Pena is our American League Manager of the Year. Admit it now -- how many times this season have we written off the Royals? But here we are in mid-August, and KC is STILL sitting atop the Central Division -- a game and a half over the White Sox, two and a half over the Twins. In case you missed it last night, the underdog Royals pounded out a team-record 11 doubles en route to a come-from-behind win against the big, bad Yankees, who they will meet again tonight at Kauffman Stadium. You may not know many of the names, but these Royals can flat-out hit. And in Pena, Kansas City has a manager who has drilled home the teachings of sound, fundamental baseball. That is NOT the case right now with the New York Yankees. Watching the Yankees play, you see a team that appears to suffer too many mental lapses in the field, at the plate, and on the basepaths. Those problems were on display again last night, and New York is probably going to need something other than Boss Steinbrenner's money to solve them."
"Two weeks ago, the Boston Red Sox were bathing in applause after pulling off a number of deals at the trading deadline. But all the wheeling and dealing hasn't translated into results on the field, where the Sox have lost 8 of their last 13. Last night in Oakland, only two hits for Boston against the A's Tim Hudson, who out-dueled Pedro Martinez in a 4-0 win. Predictably, after maxing out at 128 pitches in a complete game last week, Martinez looked spent, unable to make it past the fifth inning. In fact, for all the gamesmanship between the front offices in New York and Boston, neither the Yankees or the Red Sox-at the moment-look like teams who'll be playing deep into October. Who then from the American League? How about Oakland? Think about it-right now, last year's Cy Young Winner Barry Zito is considered the FOURTH best starter in their rotation. And Zito goes tonight against Boston's John Burkett."
Le Batard: Scandal-clad star
MONDAY, AUGUST 11, 2003
Extra Point A.M. -- Dan Le Batard: "It isn't a coincidence that Ohio State didn't win its first football national championship in more than three decades until its best player came soaked in scandal. There's a good amount of soul-selling at the collegiate mountaintop, at the intersection of higher learning and higher earning, and running back Maurice Clarett isn't the most egregious symbol for it, just the latest. Clarett is one of the many reasons the term ''student-athlete'' is the biggest lie in sports. He isn't in school to study, learn or grow in any way other than physically. To him, Ohio State is merely a rest stop on the way to a more lucrative destination, not unlike the Turnpike toilets where tourists stop en route to Disney World. Clarett was allowed to bring questionable character a little closer to the OSU library because he had the kind of talent that could strip the ball and the championship away from the mighty University of Miami on the biggest play of the season's biggest game. But you can't be aghast when that same questionable character happens to misbehave when it isn't scoring touchdowns. Clarett doesn't come from a place with the NCAA's rules, doesn't respect them and certainly isn't going to abide by them."
Extra Point P.M. -- Chris McKendry: "Little League Baseball is making its annual trip to the world's stage. Get ready for mind boggling stats. Already in regional competition, Florida's Mike Broad pitched a no-hitter and hit a grand slam in the SAME game. Here's hoping he's not 16. In the Majors age is a hot topic for good reason. Jaime Moyer and Roger Clemens met yesterday in the world's most famous Stadium. Moyer, the first 40 something since 1989 to win at least 15 games. And 41 year old Clemens the newest pitcher with 300 career wins...could become only the 2nd 300 game winner to post a winning record in his final season. To those players who are their way to Williamsport with dreams of Yankee Stadium... life's just beginning...funny Clemens who will retire to spend time with his ball playing sons...feels the same way...proving age is a state of mind and for one power pitcher anyway life does begin at 41."
Sportsbeat -- Chuck Wilson: "Tonight on ESPN, NFL preseason action features two teams seeking answers to different questions as the Philadelphia Eagles play the New Orleans Saints. The Eagles have been stopped in the NFC Championship game each of the last two seasons and now try to take the next step with some key personnel changes. Return-man Brian Mitchell is gone, so are linebackers Shawn Barber and Barry Gardner. But the biggest question for the 4th-ranked defense is who replaces the 12.5 sacks and dominating presence of defensive end Hugh Douglas? On offense, Donovan McNabb is an even harder-to-defend QB. He's added 10-lbs of muscle to weigh-in at 245, but does he have the targets downfield and when will Duce Staley be back?"
"For the Saints, the question is more basic: how do they avoid the end-of-season meltdown that has scuttled their playoff plans the last two seasons? In 2001, they gave-up 160-points in losing their last 4-games and last year, they lost their last 3-games, all three to teams with losing records. The offense has the playmakers...Aaron Brooks, Duece McAlister, Joe Horn and Dante Stallworth and the 27th-ranked defense added much-needed speed.
The Eagles and Saints, two teams dealing with different kinds of disappointment...both hungry to prove themselves.
"With 40+ games remaining, four of the six division races in Major League Baseball are still up-for-grabs. The American League has 7-of-14 teams in the mix for a playoff spot and 6-teams are within 3.5 games of the Wild Card in the National League."
"There is just one division race in the NL but it's a good one with Houston, St. Louis and Chicago within 2.5 games at the top of the Central. Tonight, the Astros and Cubs meet at Wrigley Field in the first of 7-meetings in the next 11-days. Can the Cubs make a run? Well, the starting pitching is tough with Kerry Wood, Carlos Zambrano and a healthy Mark Prior, but they rank 12th in the league in runs scored and 14th in OBP. Even with Sammy Sosa on a tear with 21-HRs since June 24th, the Cubs may not have enough offense to get it done."
Davis: Waco woes
SATURDAY, AUGUST 9, 2003
Extra Point A.M. -- Rece Davis: "Baylor is the world's largest Baptist university. In southern religious circles, there's a joke that goes "do you know why people from Baylor never make love standing up?"......"They're afraid someone will see them and think they're dancing." For the uninitiated... historically, dancing was frowned on by conservative Baptists. Turns out the Baylor basketball program was dancing with the Devil. Dave Bliss resigns amid sordid allegations that staff members knew players were using banned substances and perhaps even helped them slip drug tests. This, and other violations unraveled the program in the wake of the Patrick Dennehy tragedy. Bliss recently said: "We have followed the rules for 30 years" ... and that to his knowledge, his players had no more to do with drugs "than the man in the moon." Forget dancing, isn't there a commandment about lying? A time to dance, a time to mourn. Bliss's dance is over. And again, collegiate athletics have way too much to mourn. "
Schaap: The pumped candidate
FRIDAY, AUGUST 8, 2003
Extra Point Commentary A.M. -- Jeremy Schaap: "It was Don King, of course, who made only in America an all-purpose catchphrase. Only in America were the words that flashed through my mind when Arnold Schwarzenegger-like King a man celebrated for his way with words-announced his California gubernatorial candidacy. Only in America could a former professional bodybuilder, an admitted steroid abuser, launch a credible campaign for one of the most powerful positions in the land. Oh, did I forget to mention that he's from Austria -- a nation the U.S. fought in two world wars? My point is simply that we're willing to overlook a lot in some celebrities, but others are never given a second chance. Ben Johnson, the Canadian sprinter, used steroids to propel himself to the one hundred meter gold medal in Seoul. He was caught and disgraced and remains disgraced. Schwarzenegger cheated, too, but his transgressions are considered meaningless. Somewhere under a rock, Ben Johnson must be shaking his head."
Extra Point Commentary P.M. -- Chris Moore: "As I watched SportsCenter this morning, I wondered what the lead would be, we do that routinely in this business, set out to prioritize the biggest stories from the night before and hopefully spend time talking about what you fans are talking about. Well, being that it's a month before pro football begins in earnest, and being that Brett Favre and Michael Vick weren't involved, I have to admit I was a little surprised that the lead was the preseason game between the Giants and the Patriots. Now you can interpret this whatever way you'd like, perhaps you believe it was the wrong lead, but it got me to thinking. How far ahead the N F L is in 2003 from any other pro sports organization out there. There is just nothing about football that doesn't work for us right now. The schedule, the optimism of pre season, the way the games are spaced, the personalities, the talent, you name it, in every way shape and form, NFL football is the game on the American sports scene right now, and it doesn't really matter what's second."
Sportsbeat -- Brent Musburger: "Barry Bonds, Dontrelle Willis, Roy Halladay. They all seem worthy candidates to be the major-league player of the year, but they're not even close to the front-runner. I'm looking at a player who's about to make significant baseball history. No one has ever won a Cy Young Award as a starter, then come back to win another one as a reliever. John Smoltz looks like he'll do it this year. Smoltz claimed his first Cy Young in 1996, when he won 24 games for a Braves team that actually won the World Series. Last season, his first full year as a reliever, he set the National League record for 55 saves. That record is in serious jeopardy this year, and so is Bobby Thigpen's 13-year-old big-league record of 57. As the Braves begin a big weekend series at St. Louis, Smoltz is on pace to shatter that record and get to at least 60. Hitters will tell you that if you want to beat Smoltz, you have to do it before he comes in the game. It's as simple as that. At 36, he still has a fastball in the mid- to upper-90s and a devastating splitter in the 80s. As a relief pitcher, he thinks about just one thing: Get the first hitter. Folks, John Smoltz is the most-valuable player on the winningest team in baseball. For my money, that makes him the big leagues' player of the year."
"Three teams with plenty of quarterback questions are on the field tonight looking for answers. First, there's Tampa Bay at Miami, where the Dolphins have an uneasy starter. Jay Fiedler has the job for now, but Dave Wannstedt will be taking a long look at ex-Bronco and Dolphin-pedigreed Brian Griese. As for the champs, Brad Johnson is set as the starter, but Bucs coach Jon Gruden will be watching keen competition for the backup job between veteran Shaun King and rookie Chris Simms. In Oakland, the Raiders are set with Rich Gannon. Meanwhile, the visiting Saint Louis Rams may be saying all the right things about Kurt Warner, but if he looks anything less than 100 percent, you can be sure Marc Bulger will be getting a long look from coach Mike Martz."
Wilson: Judge, you cannot be serious
THURSDAY, THURSDAY, 8, 2003
Extra Point A.M. -- Chuck Wilson: "Lost in all the coverage of the Kobe Bryant court appearance in Colorado yesterday was an outrageous court decision in Illinois. Remember William Ligue Jr, who along with his son, attacked KC Royals coach Tom Gamboa on the field during a Royals-White Sox game last September? Ligue pleaded guilty to two counts of aggravated battery but he isn't going to jail. Cook County Judge Leo Holt sentenced Ligue to 30-months probation plus community service, parenting classes, a substance-abuse program and a 90-day curfew. That's it. This was a vicious, unprovoked assault by two fans who ran on to the field and started punching an unsuspecting coach, leaving him with a hearing loss. But instead of sending a strong message that such actions will not be tolerated, the judge claimed deterrence wasn't an issue because fan misbehavior is uncommon. To which I say&'Judge Holt, are you serious?'"
Extra Point P.M. Bob Picozzi: "It's the first full weekend of NFL preseason play, 16 games over a 5-day period. Now, we know the outcomes of these games mean absolutely nothing but jobs will be won or lost. Especially in Tempe, Arizona, where Bill Parcells makes his debut as coach of the Cowboys. Parcells M-O hasn't changed much over the years, whether with the Giants, the Patriots, or the Jets. Weed out the attitude problems, the ones who are not on the same page as the head coach. Accept the fact that there will be growing pains and look to put "his" stamp on the program. Bill Parcells' teams are hardly the bastion of "democracy." He will surround himself with his people. Guys who know how to drive the bus. Jerry Jones swears he will let the Tuna do his thing. He better. Because if Jones wants to know how things will go if he meddles, all he has to do is revisit The Bill Parcells-Bob Kraft Marriage in Foxboro. Let him buy the groceries, Jerry."
Sportsbeat -- Brent Musburger: "When the New York Giants visit the New England Patriots tonight, you won't see any quarterback controversies on display. Both teams are set with Kerry Collins and Tom Brady, two guys who have taken their teams to Super Bowls. But that doesn't mean there isn't room for improvement. The question may be who needs to improve -- the quarterback or the supporting cast? Let's start with Brady. He finished 10th in the NFL's QB rankings in 2002, one year after guiding the Patriots to a world championship. He threw for 28 touchdowns, but he also had 14 passes intercepted. It would be easy for Patriot fans to blame it on Brady, but not so fast, my friends. When you have to throw the ball 35-40 times every week because your team has no running game to speak of, 14 picks aren't all that many. As for Collins, he threw for only 19 touchdowns a year ago. Despite having weapons like Barber and Toomer and Shockey, the Giants offense was awful last year, which is why Jim Fassel took over running it. Like I said folks, it would be easy to blame the quarterbacks, but it looks to me like there were other reasons Brady and Collins weren't able to lead their teams back to the promised land, which brings us to tonight. You can see the Giants and the Patriots and their work-in-progress at 8 Eastern on ESPN.
"It's the last week before the PGA Championship in Rochester, N.Y., and Tiger Woods is about the only big-name player skipping this week's International in Colorado. Funny, because you'd think Tiger could use the tuneup. Check out the Tour stats. We're talking about a guy who is only 19th in driving distance -- and 119th in driving accuracy. And while he thinks there are cheaters who are ahead of him, I doubt that number gets to 118. It's clear Tiger has to overcome some huge problems off the tee, no matter what kind of club he is using. These days, he's an overrated driver, but he's also an underrated, top-10 putter, and as long as that's the case, his slump in majors could end almost anytime -- maybe even next week."
Scott: Hard decision on the field
WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 6, 2003
Extra Point -- Stuart Scott (morning): "I'm not trying to live anyone's life. I also know what it's like to suffer a serious, life-changing injury on a football field -- a major eye injury last year while working out with the Jets -- but after minicamp last year, I wasn't going to play any more NFL football anyway. The Chiefs' Willie Jones has a decision to make. In Monday night's Hall of Fame Game he had a neck injury, went down, lost all feeling, stayed down for 10 minutes, had to be taken to the hospital, where he wasn't expected to be released until Wednesday. Jones got all feeling back, just like last time. Yeah, there was a 'last time,' in practice nine months ago. Jones had a similar neck injury, lost all feeling, got it back but was put on injured reserve and didn't play the rest of the year. How many more chances do you give it? One? Three? None? Retirement has to be an option for a man 6-6, 355 pounds. What if it happens again and he doesn't regain feeling? He's 27 years old. Maybe the young should think about growing old later than sooner."
Extra Point -- Jay Mariotti (afternoon): "It's troubling enough that Kobe Bryant, the one superstar whose image seemed trustworthy, turns out to be a two-timer accused of rape. It's pathetic enough that the Internet spews filth about the alleged victim, that Bryant gives his wife a $4 million make-up ring, that he shows up at an awards show where teens chant his name. But then came the jolt from Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, whose insensivity is eclipsed only by his naked greed. A frat boy who never grew up, Cuban is coming off like an ignorant, tongue-wagging, money-grubbing stooge. 'From a business perspective, it's great for the NBA,' he said of the Bryant case. 'It's reality television. People love train-wreck television, and you hate to admit it, but that is the truth. That's the reality today.' He went on to say, 'Notoriety sells. You only need to look at Mike Tyson as the No. 1 draw in boxing as proof.' His remarks are as wrong as they are inappropriate. How dare an owner talk about capitalizing financially on a sexual-assault case. And unless Cuban wants the NBA to become as sordid as boxing, how stupid to drop Bryant in a garbage bin with Tyson. Apparently, Cuban doesn't care about the quality of human beings in his league. He just cares about the money. His timing couldn't be worse."
SportsBeat -- Brent Musburger (afternoon): "The most valued free agent at the trade deadline tries the National League on for size tonight. Fourteen-game winner Sidney Ponsón makes his San Francisco debut tonight when the Giants host the Pittsburgh Pirates. How much value did Ponsón have last month? Well, the Baltimore Orioles were demanding quite a bit in return, and to keep him away from such would-be suitors as Houston and Saint Louis, the Giants had to give up two starting pitchers and a prospect. So how is it one arm is better than two? When the Giants were thinking ahead to a best-of-seven showdown with the Atlanta Braves, they had to realize they were coming up short in quality. Now they look set with Jason Schmidt, Kirk Rueter and Ponsón in their starting rotation, not to mention a very deep bullpen anchored by Tim Worrell. Hey, folks. I just realized something. We've gone about 45 seconds talking about the Giants, and this is the first time I'm mentioning Barry Bonds.
"American League pennant races lead off tonight with Pedro Martínez and the Red Sox hosting Anaheim. Meanwhile, the Yankees have David Wells protecting their 3½-game lead at home against Texas. In the West, the first-place Mariners send Joel Pineiro in search of his 14th win on a visit to Cleveland, and you might as well chalk up another win for second-place Oakland. The A's trail the Mariners by four games as they begin play tonight in Detroit. Folks, when it comes to losing, no major-league team did it more than the '62 New York Mets. They went 40-120, and it might have been even worse if it weren't for a couple rainouts that they didn't make up at the end of the year. This year's Detroit Tigers are 29-81. To avoid passing the '62 Mets for most losses in a big-league season, the they would have to go 13-39 down the stretch. We're talking .250 ball, folks. Sounds like a tall order. Then again, maybe they could do what the Mets did -- and that's pray for rain."
Moore: No contest in AL East
TUESDAY, AUGUST 5, 2003
Extra Point -- Chris Moore (morning): "Somewhere back in 1953, after the Yankees had won their fifth consecutive World Series, a Red Sox fan no doubt figured that their 35-year drought would soon end. The BoSox finished fourth that year in the American League, but still, 35 years was a long time. Something had to give. Well, as we all know here 50 years later, nothing has given. The question every year since has been the same: Will this be the year? Well, I'm here to tell you, no. Despite the mercenary appearance, the apparent lack of character, the hittability of the closer, the growing rift between Joe and George, despite all that, this will not be the year. I respect the Red Sox and their offense, but their pitching is still suspect. Their so-called ace has seven wins. Seven. Jamie Moyer of the Mariners has twice that, and he is not exactly Cy Young. Pitcher for pitcher, it's not close, and in the end, I would guess that the race in the American League East won't be either."
Extra Point -- Dan Davis (afternoon): "These are heady days for lovers of horse racing. The release of the movie version of Seabiscuit has given the sport a clear boost. It's a great story following up on a great book, and best of all, even with all of Hollywood's trappings, this story gets told with rare accuracy. The Seabiscuit story has helped bridge the gap between the Triple Crown races and the Travers Stakes coming up this month at Saratoga. Funny Cide is something like Seabiscuit in terms of coming from nowhere to greatness --winning the Derby and Preakness, upsetting the super breds. The parallels with Seabiscuit continue. Funny Cide, maybe a bit used up in training, lost the Belmont and then turned in a dull effort in the Haskell. Now he's sick, has a fever and may not even start in the Travers. Poor Funny Cide, down and out with no shot at winning the big one. That should make it all the more exciting when this horse that could knocks off War Admiral, er, excuse me, Empire Maker on August 23."
SportsBeat -- Brent Musburger (afternoon): "Here's an episode of our new reality radio show. We call it 'Who Wants to Bury a Millionaire.' In this episode, our hero owes $13 million to the IRS, $4 million in taxes to the British, $600,000 to seven different sets of attorneys, even $170,000 to a jeweler. And we're not talking Anna Nicole Smith, folks. We're talking about a true heavyweight. The star of this show is Mike Tyson. Despite making more than $300 million since he began his professional boxing career, Tyson is more than $20 million in debt. Now let's spice up this episode a little with a flashback. Rewind to 1996, when 'Iron Mike' knocked out Frank Bruno to win the WBC championship. That's right, folks. It's been that long since Tyson has won a fight of any significance. In nearly 7½ years since, let's think about how Tyson has stayed in the headlines. He bites off an opponent's ear. He loses his boxing license. He goes beats up a couple guys after getting into a fender bender. He goes to jail for that. He decks an opponent after the bell. He gets divorced again. He gets into a melee at a news conference. And this summer he faces charges after getting into a brawl at a Brooklyn hotel. Sounds like the type of guy who ought to be the star of a reality show -- and not in the world of sports.
"The runaway leader for major league Manager of the Year sends his team out to the field again tonight in Chicago. What a pleasure it was last night watching Tony Peña's Kansas City Royals drop down consecutive successful bunts in come-from-behind, 13-9 victory over Chicago. Just when you thought the Royals were dead and fading, they bounce back again to lead the White Sox by three full games in the AL Central. Tonight the Royals will have to find a way to get past Esteban Loaiza, who will be looking at some Cy Young votes at the end of the season. Meanwhile, Peña has stressed fundamentals in keeping the Royals in the race. Just look at those two bunts last night. That trait alone makes the Royals a team worth rooting for."
Le Batard: Tyson ATM out of service
MONDAY, AUGUST 4, 200
Extra Point -- Dan Le Batard (morning): "Can we leave Mike Tyson alone now? Please? The latest news, a full decade removed from his last decent fight, is that Tyson somehow squandered $300 million in prize money and now needs protection by filing for bankruptcy. Tyson has always needed protection -- from his friends, from his handlers, from himself and now from his creditors. He's a shell of a champion who exists merely to bounce around the sports section from bad headline to bad headline in a way that makes getting a tattoo on your face seem sane. Which do you think is stranger? That Tyson could somehow blow $300 million? Or that two drunk guys would somehow decide to pick a fight with Mike Tyson, of all people? How drunk and dumb do you have to be, exactly, to pick a fight with Tyson? How drunk and dumb do you have to be to lose $300 million, for that matter? Tyson remains a traveling circus, which is all he's been the last decade. Well, that -- and a cash machine that just ran out of money."
Extra Point -- Chris McKendry (afternoon): "When will professional athletes take responsibility for their actions? Mike Tyson has filed for bankruptcy. The former heavyweight champ has squandered more than a quarter-billion dollars on lavish spending. In a news release, Tyson's people blame other Tyson people for bad investment advice. Tyson needs someone to tell him that buying white tigers is a bad investment? Kobe Bryant prepares for his first court appearance tomorrow. I recently heard a former cop and bodyguard ask where were Kobe's bodyguards at the time of the alleged attack? Oh, so now this mess and possible crime are a bodyguard's fault? Ephedra. Too many baseball players are waiting for the league to ban it before they stop using it. The FDA has linked Ephedra to more than 100 deaths, including Orioles pitcher Steve Bechler's. What's the point here? If another player dies, he can blame the league? The buck has to stop somewhere, and that place shouldn't be the grave."
SportsBeat -- Brent Musburger (afternoon): "At 10-1 in Las Vegas, they are definitely a long shot to get to the Super Bowl, but don't let the numbers fool you. Instead, they should have you looking long and hard at the Kansas City Chiefs, my upset special to win the AFC championship. They begin their preseason tonight in Canton-Ohio against Brett Favre and the Green Bay Packers. All eyes will be on running back Priest Holmes, who's hip has healed from late-season surgery last year. He and the Chiefs were the most lethal-scoring, fourth-quarter team in the NFL. Problem was the Chiefs were giving up more points than they were getting, but Dick Vermeil says the defense has been upgraded dramatically. Speaking of Vermeil, if you look at his coaching record, you must beware of his teams come season number three. Remember, he guided the Rams to a Super Bowl title after two losing seasons. I'm not suggesting he'll do that with Kansas City, but I do like the Chiefs' chances in the AFC West. The Oakland Raiders are getting older and worn down. Denver is so desperate for the second coming of John Elway, they've turned to Arizona's master of the interception, Jake Plummer. And it says here San Diego will miss Junior Seau's emotion more than Marty Schottenheimer thinks. Those are all reasons why I think the Chiefs can shine. You'll get your first look at them in tonight's Hall of Fame Game at 8 Eastern on ABC.
"A couple gold-medal performances by golfers over the weekend. Annika Sorenstam scored a one-stroke victory over rival Se Ri Pak, becoming only the sixth woman to complete the career grand slam when she captured the Women's British Open. Then there's Jim Furyk, who seems to be one of the few golfers who can beat down Tiger Woods on a Sunday. The U.S. Open champ fired a 68 to win the Buick Open. Tiger was another two shots back. By the way, did you see where Tiger hit another errant tee shot that struck a fan in the head? The fan needed three stitches to close the cut. No word yet on what those sutures will fetch on eBay."
Cohn: Camp follower
SATURDAY, AUGUST 2, 2003
Extra Point -- Linda Cohn (morning): "Hey, I know it's August, and let's face it. We sports fans are desperate for something to divert our attention away from baseball -- at least some of the time. Nothing against the battles on the diamond, but couldn't we use a distraction? Turn on ESPN and you can find showdowns involving people playing poker, and then you have the battle of the BassMasters. If that doesn't do it for you, there's always NFL training camps. For starters you can keep track of how many days your favorite rookie is holding out. You can have a harmless bet with your friends on just which star player will be injured first. Let's not forget the fun that comes with debating the numerous quarterback controversies. Also, what is the true meaning of 'two-a-days'? And does it get any better than celebrating cutdown days with your loved ones? Don't worry. You have plenty of time to dive into this. The NFL regular season is just over a month a way. Happy camping."
McKendry: Naming to be played later
FRIDAY, AUGUST 1, 2003
Extra Point -- Chris McKendry (morning): "In the 1980s the Cardinals traded shortstop José González to the Giants. When he joined San Francisco he changed his name to Jose Uribe, making him the ultimate 'player to named later." I joke, but there is a stigma surrounding the nameless players. As the trading deadline passed yesterday, several players to be named later were tossed in, but don't toss them aside. They matter. Giants ace Jason Schmidt was a player to be named later in a 1996 deal between the Pirates and Braves. David Ortiz was the 'throw-in' in '96, when the Mariners wanted Dave Hollins. Jesse Orosco was the player to be named later in a 1978 trade for Jerry Koosman. Orosco recently was acquired by the Yankees for yes, a player to be named later. Finally, Scott Brosius was a player to be named later in a deal between the A's and Yankees. He's not only mattered but went on to be named World Series MVP. You see, some players are not only named later; they make a name for themselves."
Extra Point -- John Anderson (afternoon): "Kobe Bryant. Patrick Dennehy. Carlton Dotson. Rick Neuheisel. Mike Price. Bryant, Dennehy, Dotson, Neuheisel, Price -- day after day, above the fold. Night after night on 'SportsCenter.' Journalism's toy department has moved to the front page. Boy, what I wouldn't give for a good sports story where the most important detail is the final score. Remember those times when sports was fun, and the debates were over which player was better -- and not over his guilt or innocence? Now I'm not Polyanna saying sports and athletes should be immune to real-world failings, but most of us get plenty of real world at the job site or the mall or the bus stop. But this is sort of the environment that has been carved out in recent times. We sell the players, not the games. We pump up personalities, not the team. We celebrate, well, celebrities, not the simply efficient. And when you raise a man up higher than a man should be, we set ourselves up to disappointed or just plain mad as spit."
SportsBeat -- Brent Musburger (afternoon): "On the field and off, the New York Yankees look like they're getting it done. They're 3½ games up on the Red Sox as they begin a weekend series tonight at Oakland, and getting Aaron Boone from Cincinnati fills the Yankees' third-base void for years to come. At 36, Robin Ventura is closer to the end than the beginning, and it's clear Drew Henson wasn't giving Boss George much bang for his $17 million. Drew's next stop may be the NFL. So how about the Red Sox? Jeff Suppan helps, but not in a shaky bullpen. As for the other American League contenders, you can't overlook the White Sox. They add Álomar and Everett and have the best record in the bigs since the All-Star break at 12-1. Look out, Kansas City. And while Oakland makes a race of things out West, Seattle's Gillick stands 'Pat,' but not for lack of trying. His reliever, Jeff Nelson, begged to differ, taking 15 minutes to rip into the M's GM. Said Nelson, 'It's tough to sit here year after year and watch this team not do things to better themselves.' Last time I checked, Jeff Nelson is paid to come out of the bullpen and get people out. Pat Gillick is paid to pick up the phone and make decisions, including whether it's better to play the hand he's been dealt. The M's track record suggests it's way too early to panic over the perception of inactivity.
"So look who's Keyshawn Johnson's new buddy. It's none other than his new Tampa Bay teammate -- rookie quarterback Chris Simms. Word is they were shopping together in Tokyo's electronic stores this week. Said Keyshawn: 'I get to hang with the blond bombshell.' Keyshawn also predicted Simms 'is going to be good.' You can start to judge for yourself in a matter of hours as the Bucs meet the New York Jets at 5 a.m. Eastern on ESPN2. Me? I'll take a pass. Sitting here in Montana, I wouldn't get up a 3 in the morning for a Super Bowl, let alone an exhibition opener. I'll check out the replay tomorrow night at 8 Eastern on ESPN."