July 28, 2004
Greg Maddux:
Wins No. 299, setting up the big Three-Oh-Oh for the weekend. What's more impressive: 300 Ws or 500 HRs? HRs are eye candy, but Ws get nod.
The Lead Item
Two Words For You:

There's one bright side to having an underperforming pitcher like the Angels' Bartolo Colon. When he finally finds his groove, it's like a midseason trade for an ace.

7 IP, 1 H, 8 K, 0 ER. Combine Colon's shut-down performance over the AL West-leading Rangers Tuesday night with his overall performance this month (4-0 in last 4 starts), and it means:

Anaheim should pull out of the Randy Johnson Derby and stick with the bet they made in the offseason when it signed Colon.

Assuming he can keep it up, Colon's pitching now is a minimal drop-off from Johnson; meanwhile, the Angels save their prospects and the Big Unit of money they would have had to pay Johnson next season.

Colon's turnaround is the key to the Angels' fortunes with 60 games to go (today 2.5 games back for the wild card).

The only downside? How do you like the sound of "Randy Johnson, New York Yankee?" That's Monday's column, after the Unit is traded at the wire on Saturday.

NFL Camping: K.C.
Today's NFL camp opening:

Chiefs (River Falls, WI)
All the hype: Fixing leaky D
Real story: Perennial underestimation of Priest.

Okafor Injured
The threat of terrorism in Athens isn't what had the Bobcats -- or any other NBA team with an Olympian -- freaked out over player participation; it's the threat of injury.

When Emeka Okafor's ankle ends up setting back his entire rookie season, will fans and critics remember that he injured it playing for his country?

Edge to 'Fins?
"There's no truth to" rumors that Edgerrin James would be dealt to Miami, according to Colts honcho Bill Polian.

The NFL's biggest flaw is how hard it is to trade players. Look at the interest created through

Cards P Jason Marquis: Runs off 8th straight W; who knew?
Gary Sheffield: 400 HR (but apparently 400 is the new 300)
Barack Obama: Dem or GOPer, you have to hear that speech
Knicks trade for Jamal Crawford: Bulls don't make a deal
Andy Pettitte: *Tear* in elbow tendon? Even *sounds* bad
Cincy Reds: 7 straight Ls; early-season mojo: evaporated
trades (or, trade rumors) in baseball and the NBA. (Not that the NFL needs the help creating interest.)

SEC Media Day
600 media credentials were issued and not a single sighting of Tennessee coach Phil Fulmer, who was avoiding Alabama -- ducking some trouble with the law like he was a distant cousin of the Dukes of Hazzard.

Pac-10 Media Day
USC was unanimous choice to win the league. Given that USC will likely start the season No. 1 in the country, those West Coast media types sure are taking a leap.

Speaking of USC: The school is now claiming a share of the 1939 national title. (Yes: 1939.) Apparently, the poll system was as wacked-out 65 years ago as today.

Vikes Sign WWE Star
WWE star Brock Lesnar (a.k.a. "The Next Big Thing") signing with the Vikings -- even though he hasn't played football since high school, mind you -- may signal that the NFL is willing to look in untraditional places for talent. (Previously known as "Arena League.")

Bigger question: Who will become the Mel Kiper Jr. of WWE scouting?!

ESPN25: Top Coaches
Last night's "Who's No. 1?" was a fun one: Coaches. Doesn't get more controversial than that. Some people swear by Don Shula; others think he's the most overrated coach ever (see Big 5). A few thoughts, sport-by-sport:

Overrated: Bill Parcells
Underrated: Jimmy Johnson

Overrated: Pat Riley
Underrated: Gregg Popovich

Overrated: Tony La Russa
Underrated: Lou Piniella

Overrated: Coach K
Underrated: Geno Auriemma

Overrated: Bobby Bowden
Underrated: Lloyd Carr

"Amish in the City"
The Amish kids end up looking pretty good, from what I've heard; it's the boorish non-Amish participants who apparently come across so badly that they might end up wanting to avoid TV for the rest of their lives.

Olympic hoops feud:
Apparently, all those big, young egos are playing nice together down in Jacksonville. Where's the spice!? Wait 'til they lose their first ...
Today on ESPN.com
Page 2: Michael Moore's sports documentaries
Farrey: Urine Luck
ESPN25: Coaches debate
New NFL talent pipelines
They're all big enough
USA Track
Insert 'roid joke here
Is size the big factor?
American Idol rejects
i.e., Matt (ex-U. Wash OL)
NFL Europe
Uh, what's NFL Europe?

Day Game! Twins at White Sox (ESPN, 2 pm). Think what you want about U.S. Cellular Field, but at least stadium chunks aren't falling ...

MLB Trade Rumor Mill: Urbina to Giants? Benson to Twins, Day 2? Finley anywhere West? V. Zambrano to a contender, Day 2? ...

"Urine Luck": Best name ever for a drug-masking agent? Yes. OTL's Tom Farrey has a must-read on the subject (See Q It Up) ...

All that early NBA free-agent action kind of takes the wind out of the late-month news that Mehmet Okur will join the Jazz ...

The Wizards deny the Bucks and match $38 mil offer to Etan Thomas, a poor man's Ben Wallace; Wiz desperate for frontcourt depth ...

MTV Music Video Award nominees have come out: My money's on a "retirement" sweep for Jay-Z, but watch out for D12 ...

Before I'm sucked into "Manchuria" Mania on Friday, my must-see movie is "Garden State" with two faves: Zach Braff and Nat Portman ...

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