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Monday, August 2,2004

TIME FOR HOLIDAY IN HELL

POSTCARD from Hades. An other week in paradise. Wish you were here.

If Kris Benson's wife were a microbiologist in pursuit of a cure for a deadly disease instead of a hot babe who's apparently allergic to clothing we wouldn't yet know a thing about her, would we?

Robbie Knievel, by the way, was only the latest of thousands but the first in years to have performed a death-defying feat aboard the USS Intrepid. Coming soon: X-Games bungee-jumping from the Washington Monument and the Mountain Dew NASCAR 400 through the cemeteries at Gettysburg.

ESPN's "SportsCenter" guys, Thursday, did a good job catching up to and then getting in front of the Ricky Williams story. But then they blew it by giving credence to Williams' incredulous claim that he planned to quit the NFL even before taking his last drug test. Then why did he take it?

 

*

Never let it be said that we don't hold empathy for Mike Francesa and Chris Russo. Both returned from vacation to be confronted by a conga line of callers who wanted to trade everyone for everyone else. Only Francesa seemed annoyed by the nonsense.

Gee, we'd have liked to believe ESPN's self-congratulatory claim on Friday, that ESPN's Peter Gammons broke the story about that Marlins-Dodgers trade. But ESPN, in recent years, has taken credit for so many "scoops" it simply lifted from newspapers or wire services that our conditioned response is disbelief.

ESPN Radio recently credited ESPN.com with the scoop on the Kenyon Martin-to-the-Nuggets deal. But the same story appeared in that day's newspapers. Had ESPN.com had it first, it would've run before the newspapers were published.

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Dave O'Brien yesterday risked his Mets' TV job when, while working on Ch. 11, he said that the Mets, should they lose, will go from one game back on July 15 to nine out on Aug. 1. Fran Healy would've told us that the Mets are really sockin' that ball.

Reader Dom Nunziato wrote to recall that as a kid he was encouraged to root against Soviet-bloc Olympic athletes because they were professionals on performance-enhancing drugs. And he's now supposed to cheer for U.S. Olympians? Why, because they're Americans?

Connecticut's Cal Ripken League tournament games for 10-year-olds, last month, began with the p.a. speakers blaring, "Let's get ready to rumble!" Mark Yusko, inquisitive dad of a participant, asks, "Rumble? Was this kids' baseball or West Side Story?"

But all dads should know that there's now a fail-proof way to instill sportsmanship in their kids: Just keep them away from sports. A commercial for ESPN's new NFL video game stars Terrell Owens. From hundreds of NFLers, ESPN chose Owens, an inveterate me-firster, taunt-artist and show-boater. It's a relentless pity.

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Darrell Kestner, Long Island club pro, was among the leaders in Thursday's first round of the U.S. Senior Open. But the ESPN/NBC telecast virtually ignored him until he made a birdie putt on 16, which might've appeared on tape (why would it have otherwise suddenly appeared?). Kestner just wasn't a big enough name. We did, however, see plenty of Ray Floyd, who was well behind Kestner.

Cliff Floyd runs the bases like Mike Piazza. He'll wait to see what happens to the ball before bothering to run. Always a good idea, especially until your team is eliminated.

Finally, the Most Honest Quote of July goes to Colts VP Pete Ward. Explaining why single-game tickets to Sept. 26's Packers game have been attached to must-buys to a preseason game against the Bills, Ward told the Indianapolis Star, "We're just leveraging the demand [to the Packers game]."

All stickup men should be so honest. Come on, Paul Tagliabue, stand up and tell us that ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^such extortions on the grow throughout the NFL meet with your personal and professional approval.



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