July 31, 2006
Between Landis and Gatlin, this hormone is the new steroid, the new HGH, the new hot accessory. Ask your local masseuse about trying some today!
The Lead Item
Two Words For You:

Are you just killing time waiting to hear the final details as MLB's trade deadline ticks down to its final minutes?

Little did you know that Page 2 has been burning up the phones, fielding (and placing) calls looking to trade its roster of writers:

Bill Simmons for Greg Raymer, a Jonathan Papelbon jersey and a first-round bye in next year's "World Series of Pop Culture."

Skip Bayless for Dana Jacobsen and an outrage to be named later.

Jason Whitlock for Dan Le Batard, a spot on the Playboy Mansion guest list and Jeff George narrating our outgoing voice mail message.

Scoop Jackson for a LeBron "Witness" T-shirt, two catered meals with Dusty Baker and the Knicks' $5 million salary cap exemption.

Eric Neel for a complete set of Topps baseball cards from 1982-88 and a 12-pack of Dodger Dogs.

Gregg Easterbrook for the Eagles cheerleaders' 2007 calendar, weekly e-mails from new Redskins offensive coordinator Al Saunders and a copy of "An Inconvenient Truth."

Mary Buckheit for Cat Osterman, straight up.

Patrick Hruby for three unpublished digital photos of Brady Quinn snapping towels in a steam room with new brother-in-law A.J. Hawk.

Kevin Jackson for two season tickets to the Oklahoma City NBA team in 2007-08 plus a month's supply of Starbucks Frappuccinos.

DJ Gallo for a year-long subscription to The Onion, plus the rights to DJ Dozier, Dennis "DJ" Johnson and DJ Tanner from "Full House."

Bomani Jones for the rights to next year's sports editor of the Duke Chronicle, plus a signed copy of J.J. Redick's mug shot.

And as for me?

Dan Shanoff for Theo Epstein's Blackberry, a Joakim Noah growth poster and a TV development deal with Michael Davies.

Soriano Watch
Down to the wire? Jayson Stark's weekend hunch was that he's going to the Angels. But of the three other teams in the hunt, including L.A. and Houston, there's one name that stands out to me: Minnesota.

Who else would LOVE to see the small-market, fiscally austere Twins make this kind of win-now, big-market deal?

They're a player because of a function of two things:

Enthusiasm over the team's surge into wild-card contention, plus a deep farm system that could handle trade demands.

(Meanwhile, losing two of three to the Tigers to fall one game behind the White Sox and 1½ behind the Yankees doesn't hurt the sense of urgency.)

Trading Sori to the Twins would be a huge win for every fan of small-market teams who has ever wanted to see them compete with the big boys.

Yankees Get Abreu
Think the Yankees are feeling pressure to win? They just acquired a player who makes almost as much as the entire Marlins payroll.

Don't the Yankees already have an overpriced "selective" slugger who prefers walks to home runs in Jason Giambi?

(Abreu and Giambi are second and third in MLB in pitches per plate appearance, combining for 8.72. Quick math: If each gets five plate appearances per game, that could mean nearly 45 pitches spent on just two batters.)

Call me crazy, but I actually think that Abreu isn't the most important piece of the deal.

If Cory Lidle's last start (8IP, 4H, 2ER, 8K, 0BB) and four straight wins are foreshadowing, he'll play a much more vital role down the stretch.

As Keith Law pointed out, Lidle is the best fifth starter the Yankees will have used all year.

Trade Mania!
First up: How close were/are the Mets to landing Giants ace Jason Schmidt?

Schmidt, Zito, Oswalt: It doesn't matter. The Mets are a top-tier starter away from being ready to compete with the AL's best in October.

Meanwhile, Miguel Tejada is the poor man's Soriano: Rumors sizzle, but the O's don't seem as committed to making a deal as the Nats.

One rumor had Tejada going to the Angels for SP Ervin Santana and Triple-A SS Erick Aybar, which the O's apparently (and foolishly) rejected.

Chase Utley: Doubleheader? No problem. Hit streak hits 31
Karrie Webb: Holds off Wie by 1 to win Evian (3rd W of '06)
Carlos Zambrano: Wins 9th straight dec.; Cubs sweep Cards
Miguel Tejada trade: He doesn't want to switch to 3rd base
Dontrelle Willis: Waivers placement kills any trade rumors
Darren McFadden: SEC CFB '05 Frosh of Year hurt (bar fight)
Another rumor had Tejada headed for Houston in exchange for Roy Oswalt (and Berkman and Lidge?!). Another deal that was scuttled.

The Tejada Tease will just make the Angels and Astros that much more antsy about closing a deal for Soriano.

(I'm sorry, but was that just Brad Lidge on the table? Unthinkable a year ago, this guy is a joke today. See Sunday's latest chokery.)

Is Jon Lieber the next Phillies starter to go? He's scheduled to pitch tonight. Will it happen and which uniform will he be in?

Wait: Isn't David Wells' return to the Red Sox rotation tonight like making a trade-deadline deal for a starter? (Ha! Hardly.)

Check out the Stark Market.

Gatlin Gets Landised
You have to marvel at the chutzpah of Gatlin's coach, Trevor Graham.

He insisted that Gatlin's positive test was the result of a massage therapist with a grudge who rubbed testosterone cream into Gatlin's legs.

In the business, that's what they call a "Bitter Ending."

It's such a sensational claim that it makes Bonds' mere "he gave me a cream to use and I didn't ask what it was" sound utterly reasonable.

Take today's survey!

Finding out that the "World's Fastest Man" could be a cheater is most like finding out that:

a) Superman flies using wires
b) Tom Hanks is a jerk
McGwire/Sosa was a fraud
c) Beyonce is really a man
d) Your spouse is faking it

I'm running out of asterisks.

Reggie Bush Signs
Now that his contract holdout is behind us, we can concentrate on salivating over Bush's NFL potential.

Count me as one of those who thinks he has the skills -- speed and elusiveness -- to dominate as a "3-R" guy: running, receiving and returning.

But, as always, it'll depend on whether he plays within a system that gives him the chance to showcase those talents.

(One need only look within the division at the Falcons to see the best example of a system handcuffing a transcendent talent.)

See the Big 5, on the right, for my top five contenders for 2006 NFL Rookie of the Year.

T.O. Hits Camp
49ers and Eagles fans must be laughing their passes off watching T.O. play the cheery hero for Dallas as camp opens.

Here's the biggest lock in the NFL this season: It won't last.

What's the over/under on T.O.'s first incident?

The Cowboys play host the Redskins in prime time in Week 2. Staring at a Week 3 bye, T.O. will hear the voices to do something particularly dumb before then.

John Clayton has a must-read.

NFL Commish Finalists
Handicapping the field:

1. Roger Goodell: Tags' No. 2 and the presumptive favorite to get the job.

Resume fun fact! Started his career as an intern with the league. (NFL intern applications skyrocket.)

2. Gregg Levy: Holds Tagliabue's old job as the league's outside counsel.

Resume fun fact! Kicked Maurice Clarett to the curb in court on behalf of the league.

3. Frederick Nance: High-powered lawyer who handled negotiations for Cleveland when the Browns came back to town.

Resume fun fact! He's the only African-American candidate, which would be an obvious and positive breakthrough in sports.

4. Robert Reynolds: COO of Fidelity Investments (Hmm: Wonder if the Pats' Bob Kraft had anything to do with THAT?)

Resume fun fact! Has the most extensive actual executive management experience of any candidate.

5. Mayo Shattuck III: CEO of a Baltimore-based energy company. He also has the best name of any finalist, by a wide margin.

Resume fun fact! His wife is a Ravens cheerleader, which should make him the obvious choice. People's champ!

Hamming It Up
Steve Smith hurt: Unfortunately, he didn't tweak his hamstring doing a cool TD celebration.

But he's as trendy as it gets with an out-of-the-gate training-camp hammy injury. More players jumping on the fad:

Fred Taylor! Who had "Before Day 1" for the over/under when the injury-plagued Jags RB would suffer his first injury of the year?

Reggie Brown! If the Eagles thought last year's WR problems were bad, this year is off to an equally depressing start.

Craig Nall! Ex-Favre backup was one of the herd trying out to be the Bills' starting QB. One step closer to "J.P. Losman by default."

Meanwhile, Falcons WR Brian Finneran could be lost for the season after a knee injury at practice Sunday. Losing the Falcons' leading receiver from 2005 won't help Mike Vick's progress.

Landis Scandal
The biggest beneficiary of the Gatlin scandal is unarguably Floyd Landis. See how quickly Landis' story fell off the radar as soon as Gatlin's story broke?

Before he went into "fighting" mode on Friday, Landis nailed it during Thursday's more somber soliloquy: Even if his "B" test comes out clean, fans always will think he cheated his way to the Tour de France title.

Meanwhile, LeMond hates Lance: Talking about how he hopes Landis fesses up, he said: "I hope that he won't do what another American did: Deny, deny, deny." Rowr!

Baseball Hall: '07
With the '06 induction ceremony out of the way (our long national nightmare over Bruce Sutter's exclusion is apparently over), it's time to preview '07:

Question 1: What will voters do about Mark McGwire (and, to a lesser extent, Jose Canseco and/or Ken Caminiti)?

This will be among the most heated debates of the year: Is McGwire the player who "saved" baseball or the poster guy for its implosion? (My bet? Mac makes the cut, barely.)

Question 2: Which cranks will leave Cal Ripken and/or Tony Gwynn off their ballot out of spite, thanks to the unwritten "no unanimous selections" rule?

Simply put: Any voters who don't have Ripken and Gwynn on their ballots should have their privileges revoked. It's the Hall-voting equivalent of throwing a game.

Phil Hellmuth:
10-time World Series of Poker bracelet winner KO'd in only six hours. He always struck me as kind of arrogant; nice to see him taken down to level of WSOP chump.
Today on ESPN.com
Quickie Live
Page 2 Index
MLB Trade Card
My NFL ROY Contenders
LenDale White
*IF* he gets the carries ...
Reggie Bush
Direct correlations to TDs
A.J. Hawk
Sorry, Favre: Pack's new face
Chad Jackson
Pats need *some* WR to catch TDs
Vernon Davis
49ers' offense can't get worse

NFL Rookie Holdouts: Prima donna Matt Leinart isn't a surprise, but Donte Whitner should still be thanking the Bills for drafting him in the top 10.

If you consider Ronnie Belliard (.291, 8 HR, 44 RBI) a kind of very poor man's Alfonso Soriano, the Cards made a great trade deal.

NBA Trade Talk: The new-look Blazers are positioned to deal PG Steve Blake for former All-Star C Jamaal Magloire, according to The Oregonian.

Willie Roaf gets my vote as a Pro Football Hall of Famer. He's an 11-time Pro Bowler who played the most essential position in the game.

Kudos to Corey Pavin for parlaying his "Best Front 9 Ever" into his first PGA win since 1996.

Nickname Watch: Apparently, Joe Horn has nicknamed Reggie Bush "Baby Matrix." I'm partial to "President," but the new one is fitting enough.

Spoiler alert! More notable WSOP exits: Matusow, Brunson, Farha, Jennifer Tilly. Just remember: No cursing! It's a family gambling show.

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