September 8, 2004
Rick" Ankiel:

Gotta feel good about the Cards P, out of the majors since May 2001, making a successful big-league return in the 6th last night: 1H, 0R.
The Lead Item
Two Words For You:

In our Golden Age of ever-slower-slo-mo's and "Mac Cams," is there a justifiable reason for controversially wrong tennis calls to go unfixed?

After watching Serena get jobbed by the ump (then bumped by Capriati), it shouldn't even be a debate in the sport to add:

The replay-challenge rule.

Not every call: But each player gets three challenges, just like an NFL coach, to use when they want to.

In less time than it takes a player to engage in a lengthy complaint session with the ump, the call could be clarified.

If the players' challenge is denied, they lose the point (which they would have lost anyway). Inconclusive replays default to the chair ump's ruling.

Why rely solely on imperfect human judgment when technology provides a tool to get sketchy (even wrong) calls right?

It may be soulless, but at least it's fair.

Boston Wins (West?!)
The hot AL rumor is that with their 7-1 W at Oakland last night, the Red Sox have now clinched the AL West. Who needs the Wild Card when you're one Pedro win today from sweeping the mighty A's?

Tracking the NL
Who else has stopped paying attention to the WC-leading Cubs and Giants, instead transfixed by the streaking Astros (11 Ws in a row; Oswalt wins 17th) and Marlins (8 straight, even with a Frances break).

Which upstart has the edge? Call it the "Cards Effect": Houston has six games left vs. St. Louis; Florida: None.

Meanwhile, bad news for Chicago: Because of Frances PPDs, the Cubs will have to finish the season with 26 games in 24 days -- with no days off -- starting Friday. Good news: Most of them vs. NL dregs (but 6 vs. FLA).

Morten Andersen: 44-year-old NFL kicker signs with Vikings
Avg NFL ticket prices: Up 5 percent from '03 (to $54 per)
ESPNU: All-college ESPN network; what a phenomenal fit
Yankees ridiculous forfeit bid: Dropped; NY/TB play DH Wed
A. Mauresmo: US Open No. 2 loses to upstart Dementieva
College $$$ on sports: Study says no school donations ROI
Fins Getting Gordon
That pig pile at the top of your FFL's waiver wire is the scramble to pick up Lamar Gordon. Yesterday, he was an afterthought as the Rams' 3rd RB; today, he's likely to be shipped to Miami for more carries than he's ever seen before. (In 2003? 71-298-1.)

NFL Preview: AFC
Division Picks:
E: Pats; W: Chiefs;
N: Ravens; S: Titans;
WC: Colts (S), Denver (W)
AFC Champs: Pats d. Ravens

Overrated: Chiefs
Must finally prove p'off clutch
Underrated: Jaguars
3-1 preseason the best sign
Disappointment: Bengals
Palmer starting? 2 steps back
X-factor: Miami
Overlooked? Worse than looks?

Thursday: SB pick, awards

Deion Wears 37
Takes "looking your age" to a whole new, narcissistic level: Deion Sanders picked No. 37, to remind everyone of how old he is. As we've reminded many a good-looking older hottie: If you've got it, flaunt it.

Next Great Chump
Who would have thought boxing's only hope for survival would come via reality TV? My boxing-fanatic friend Nathan watches "Next Great Champ," so the rest of us don't have to:

"Call it the De La Hoya Theory of Relativity: These guys remind us how good pro fighters really are. 'Danger' ranked No. 1 because he did the most sit-ups? The prepster is going down faster than Wladimir Klitschko."

ESPN25 Top Moment
"Miracle on Ice": Crushed under the weight of its own mythology and eroded by the development of the Drago-like 24-hour sports-news cycle, I think it has lost a lot over time. Obviously, it didn't impact hockey's long-term fortunes. How many core ESPN devotees were even cognizant enough to remember it live?

Meanwhile, today's must-read, for something inherently more contemporary, is Jeff Merron's comprehensive Page 2 list of the Top 100 sports innovations of the ESPN Era, one of the great pieces of argument fodder I've seen this year. See Q It Up to read it; Big 5 to see the Top 5; and today's Poll to vote on it.

US Open ump
Mariana Alves:

After horrendous calls on Tuesday night, US Open head ump announces that she won't be working any more '04 US Open events.
Today on
Page 2: 100 Innovations
A.M. Quickie
Fantasy Football
Top 100 innovations
Air Jordans
"Sparked marketing revolution"
Fantasy sports
Hugely "increase(d) interest"
Drugs/Drug testing
"Cat-and-mouse game"
West Coast offense
But is "influence waning?"
Retro ballparks
Started in '92 (Baltimore)

Morning Quickie: Launched this morning, but you can catch it EVERY weekday morning (9-10 a.m.) See Q It Up for today's transcript ...

Great MLB TV day: StL/SD (3:30, ESPN); TB/NY (7, ESPN); BOS/OAK (10:30, ESPN2) How about live look-ins for Ichiro's at-bats?...

Bonds Watch: Hits No. 698, 40th HR for 5th straight season (8th overall, tying Aaron for the NL record)...

Reason No. Umpteen human CFB polls bite: Coaches drop LSU from 3 to 4, even though they *stunk* on nat'l TV. Why not out of Top 10?...

For whatever reason, Robin Ventura is a sick Grand Slam hitter. He whacked his 18th career GS (ties McCovey for 3rd all-time)...

10-second delay on the TNF NFL season opening kickoff concert tomorrow: Because you never know what that crazy Toby Keith might do?...

After noting his 16th W, I was curious about Kenny Rogers, so I checked his run support (6.13/G). Helps mitigate a mediocre 4.56 ERA...

Always wary when a top golfer switches clubs (see Tiger's blinding success). Keep an eye on Mickelson, switching to Callaway...

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