July 20, 2006
Sammy Sosa:
Is Slammin' Sammy ready for a return? What contender might forgo a pricey trade-deadline deal and take a chance on the former slugging OF?
The Lead Item
Two Words For You:

I've been inspired by Entertainment Weekly's new list of all-time great entertainment sidekicks (George Costanza *only* No. 3?!).

What, no sports sidekicks?

So here's my ranking of the Top 5 sports sidekicks of all time ("all time," as always, meaning "ESPN Era"):

1. Scottie Pippen
(Sidekick to: Michael Jordan)

2. Wade/Kobe/Madsen/Penny
(Sidekicks to: Shaq)

3. Pat Summerall
(Sidekick to: John Madden)

4. John Stockton
(Sidekick to: Karl Malone)

5. Li'l Penny
(Sidekick to: Penny Hardaway)

Next Five:

Greg Anderson (Barry Bonds)
Leo Mazzone (Bobby Cox)
Jack Haley (Dennis Rodman)
Redick/Collins/Wojo (Coach K)
Mike Wilbon (Tony Kornheiser)

Honorable Mention:

Isiah Thomas (James Dolan)
Kenny Smith (Charles Barkley)
Paul DePodesta (Billy Beane)
Fluff Cowan (Tiger Woods)
Kris Benson (Anna Benson)

Too Ambiguous to Tell:

Jose Canseco/Mark McGwire
Reggie Bush/LenDale White
Kerri Walsh/Misty May
Alan Trammell/Lou Whitaker
Curt Schilling/Randy Johnson

Bonus! Top 5 MOVIE Sidekicks

(See Big 5 for my list.)

I'd love to hear your own top sports sidekick picks. E-mail them here.

Bonds Indicted?
The biggest sports story of the day/week/month will be if/when he is indicted -- and it will be if/when he ISN'T.

But there's another scenario:

What if he is ONLY indicted on tax evasion? It's a far easier charge to prove, but it leaves MLB with little leverage to punish Bonds.

An indictment for perjury would be way more devastating to Bonds, because it links directly to allegations he used steroids.

That is the charge that MLB will try to use to act punitively against Bonds, even though an indictment isn't even close to a conviction.

But perjury is a LOT harder to prove, and there's no guarantee that the feds will indict on a shaky case that they might lose.

Of course, Bonds' trainer, Greg Anderson, is the key. But he's still not talking (and, even with a contempt charge, will be released from prison today).

British Open
If the "Big Two" (Tiger and Phil) aren't in contention Sunday at the British Open, it will put a damper on the tournament, obviously.

But it is precisely the uncertainties about both members of golf's oligarchy ("golfigarchy?") that make this year's Open so fascinating:

Everyone will be watching Phil to see if he has shaken off his jaw-dropping collapse on 18 at the U.S. Open. Is "Old Phil" back?

Everyone will be watching Tiger to see if he can rebound from his jaw-dropping missed cut at the U.S. Open. Is "Old Tiger" back?

(The trick is how to get everyone to care on Sunday if neither player is in contention.)

Hillenbrand Exiled
Jays cut Hillenbrand: There is a long and storied history of athletes throwing fits and being cut.

And there have been better reasons to refuse to sit in the dugout than Shea Hillenbrand's being dissed by the manager in front of the team …

… but a lot worse reasons than feeling like your team's management ignored that you adopted a kid a week ago (now that's cold).

Hillenbrand was indignant about the former and obviously hurt about the latter. Replied Jays manager John Gibbons: "It will do wonders for the clubhouse."

Josh Beckett: Signs new 3-year deal with Boston, then wins
More Maddux: Old scoring fix lowers ERA from 4.99 to 4.60
Royal Liverpool: New golf spotlight dries out fast surface
Carlos Alberto Parreira: Quits as Brazil Nat'l Team coach
Vinny Castilla: Padres cut underperforming 3B (.232, 4 HR)
San Jose: Gets "Sonicked"; CBA team moving to Minot, ND
New Busch: Danger!
Maybe new Busch Stadium WASN'T ready to open:

High winds caused the press box windows to blow out, KO'd concession stands and tore the tarp, hurting at least 30 people and delaying the start of the game by more than two hours.

(And Cards fans might have thought that the Braves piling on 10-plus runs in two straight games leading up to yesterday was the sign of the apocalypse.)

Undoubtedly, Cards purists were muttering: This wouldn't have happened at the OLD park.

MLB Hit List
Tigers solve White Sox: Win for only second time in eight games, but Detroit manager Jim Leyland kind of dissed my raison d'etre:

"Last night, a lot of people were ready to bury us. Tonight, we're back in good graces. That's why you just can't get involved in that. If you do, you'll drive yourself crazy."

No: Embrace Instant History!

Clemens tops Maddux: Rocket pitched six shutout innings and Maddux was tagged for a leadoff HR by (who else?) Craig Biggio. Can't we just say the two combined to win their 668th game?

(Say this: Unless they face each other again, you will never see that many combined career wins in the same game ever again.)

Sox blank Royals (again): Back-to-back 1-0 wins at Fenway is a first for Boston since June 1916, when Babe Ruth and Ernie Shore pitched.

Coincidence of the Year: Tony Gwynn Jr.'s first MLB hit came exactly 24 years to the day after his father's first hit, both doubles.

More Duke Trouble
At this point, new incidents involving Duke athletes are simply running up the scoreboard.

The latest: The football QB was suspended for the season for …?

Drumroll please …


(Zack Asack … wait, is that his real name? Did he turn to football for childhood cred after one too many "Saved By the Bell" jokes?)

Three other players were booted from the team for breaking unspecified team rules.

And the beat goes on …

(If the NCAA was like the soccer disciplinarians in Italy, they would have already demoted Duke athletics to Division II for a year. Not a bad idea, actually.)

MySpace Mania
My Favorite Story of the Day!

Kentucky turned itself in to the NCAA for a secondary violation because its fans posted pro-UK messages on a recruit's MySpace page.

The NCAA is already a screwed-up enough institution; its rules (barely) cover e-mail and text messaging, let alone something like MySpace comments.

It's insane to expect schools to monitor individual recruits' Web presences for stray communication from fans. (Fans will always find a way.)

And how do they draw a line?

Does the NCAA even see a difference between "Hey, dude, come to my school!" and the enticements of easy campus living and photos of Ashley Judd allegedly posted by UK fans? (And, to be honest, what's wrong with either?)

(For your convenience, here's a link to UK recruit Patrick Patterson's MySpace page.)

"Soonics" Cont'd
"Soonics" fans in Seattle have a desperate choice next season:

Support the team in what will likely be its final season in the city OR shun the team, sending the message that ownership's sellout is irredeemable.

Given the uncertainty of when an NBA team might return to the city, the best course of action, as usual, is a little of both:

Remain as die-hard as ever (at least for the year), but offer the team zero financial support: Don't attend games. Don't buy from the team's sponsors. If you MUST watch on TV, try to ignore everything but the game itself.

(But that's double-edged: It won't help the city's cause to earn an expansion team. Look at how unabashed enthusiasm helped Oklahoma City.)

Coming tomorrow: What Sonics fans can (and should) do in 2007-08 if/when the team leaves.

(By the way, Kevin Jackson has a must-read first-person take on being a Sonics fan losing the team.)

NFL Camping!
Full team camp previews will rev up next week, but two teams are having rookies show up today. NFL camping is so exciting, why not mini-preview them both?

Jets: New York's biggest rookie to watch is head coach Eric Mangini. Plus: Will D'Brickashaw Ferguson prove worthy of being the draft's "safe" pick?

Eagles: I'll say it again: Jeremy Bloom will bust a punt return TD in the first three games of the season and become an instant hero in Philly.

Meanwhile, speaking of the Eagles, did you hear Randy Moss on "The Dan Patrick Show" yesterday? He offered his take on the McNabb-T.O. feud:

"McNabb in a certain sense didn't want to share the fame. And I really believe that. And by T.O. … saying it, I think it's believable."

More NFL scandal? Bill Belichick has been outed as the alleged "other man" in a New Jersey divorce case turned ugly, according to a report in today's Boston Herald. Yikes. Tracking …

Zidane's Punishment
FIFA's punishment: Three games and some cash. It won't really matter to Zidane, who is retiring and has more than enough money, but they needed to set a precedent for future similar offenses.

(Here's the rub: When is there ever going to be a scenario where the World Cup's best player gets a red card for off-the-ball violence in the final match's final minutes in a move that eclipses the rest of the tournament? Will never happen like that again.)

Floyd Landis:
The best hope for the U.S. to win the Tour de France imploded in the hills of the Alps, as Landis went from yellow jersey to 11th (and no shot to win).
Today on ESPN.com
Quickie Live
Page 2 Index
Losing the Sonics
Top Sports Movie Sidekicks
Larry Hockett
"Bull Durham" bench coach
Hickory's Dale needed him
Joey La Motta
It's Joe Pesci! Come on!
Rocky was better off w/o him
Terry Mann
Kinsella's road trip buddy

USA Hoops: Training camp starts. Motivation and cohesiveness are nice, but assistant Mike D'Antoni's international experience will help more.

A.I. Trade Rumors: 76ers GM Billy King denies a Denver Post report that the 76ers vetoed a trade of A.I. to the Nuggets for a K-Mart package.

From the Dept. of "Biting the Hand That Feeds": That's quite a bit of chutzpah for poker's biggest stars to sue WPT; without WPT, they wouldn't be.

Barbaro Update: Doc calls horse's recovery a "marathon." Do you think they spend a lot of time coming up with their abbreviated sound bites?

More USA Hoops: I'm calling it now that LeBron's oddly numbered "29" jersey will be the surprise sports-fashion hit of the summer.

Glad to see Bill Simmons join me on the Tottenham Hotspur casual-fan bandwagon (soon to grow, I would imagine). Welcome!

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