Fire at Dragons
Might Rhein versus Barcelona be a preview of the June 22 World
Bowl? Barcelona, behind quarterback and likely MVP Jon Kitna,
won the WLAF first-half season title, which means that the
Dragons will host the championship game. Rhein is tied with Los
Dragones and the Scottish Claymores for the league's best record
(4-3). Kitna, property of the Seattle Seahawks, leads the WLAF
in passing yardage (265.6 per game) and touchdowns (13), and is
even fourth in rushing (43.3 yards per game).
FX, 1:30 PM
You may remember Spain's Alex Corretja as the foil in Pete
Sampras's dehydrating four-hour match at last year's U.S. Open.
This year Corretja is a leading man. His 22-4 record on clay was
the best on the men's tour as it headed to the red clay of
Roland Garros Stadium. Among the women, defending champion
Steffi Graf, recently in the throes of an injury-induced slump
and seeded second at the French behind Martina Hingis, rallied
last week with a win in Strasbourg.
NBC, SATURDAY (3 PM, TAPE-DELAY) AND SUNDAY (1 PM, TAPE-DELAY);
USA, MONDAY-THURSDAY (9 AM DAILY); NBC, FRIDAY (10 AM)
Kostya Tszyu vs. Vince Phillips
Film buffs will note the eerie parallels between the paths of
Tszyu (pronounced zoo) in his career and Jackie Chan in his most
recent release, First Strike. Both are men of Asian descent
whose fists are weapons. Their respective plots lead them to
Australia. The difference is that Tszyu (left), who emigrated
from Russia to Sydney, never fights in shark tanks. Defending
his IBF junior welterweight crown, Tszyu (18-0-1) faces the
agile, hard-hitting Phillips. A win could help make him as big
among fight fans as Chan is with martial arts mavens.
HBO, 11 PM
Chevy Chase is in Maryland, but the Chevy chasers will be at
Dover (Del.) Downs. Jeff Gordon, in his Chevrolet Monte Carlo,
will attempt to become the first NASCAR driver to win four
straight races at the same superspeedway. Gordon is one of the
few drivers on the circuit who might refer to the Monster Mile's
jarring concrete oval as super. After last year's race Dale
Earnhardt, who finished third, described his 500-lap afternoon
as "just one of those long days at Dover driving on sidewalks."
TRACK & FIELD
Donovan Bailey vs. Michael Johnson
Is this irony? A Jamaican-born Canadian (Bailey, left) and an
American-born-and-bred named Johnson will race 150 meters for
the title of World's Fastest Man, while it is a Jamaican-born
Canadian named Johnson (Ben) who has run the swiftest 100 meters
in history. True, the steroid-aided 9.79 Ben Johnson ran at the
Seoul Olympics isn't recognized as the world record; Bailey's
9.84 at the Atlanta Games--where Michael Johnson ran a world
record 19.32 in the 200--is. Talk about a fast payday: For this
unsanctioned event, the winner will receive $1.5 million, the
CBS, 5 PM
Braves at Giants
Have you heard about the jolly, green Giants? At week's end San
Francisco, which finished last in the National League West in
1995 and '96 and whose Opening Day starting lineup included four
newcomers, was in first place with a 27-20 record. The Giants
have risen despite hitting a lowly .245 as a team, with the
numbers of All-Star outfielder Barry Bonds (below) being
shockingly feeble: a .252 average, seven homers and 23 RBIs.
Will Atlanta, a first-place team that has won five straight
division titles, shrink the Giants?
TBS, 10 PM
All times Eastern. Schedules are subject to change.
COLOR PHOTO: HOLLY STEIN [Kostya Tszyu]
COLOR PHOTO: ALLSPORT [Donovan Bailey running]
COLOR PHOTO: BRAD MANGIN [Barry Bonds batting]
THE ! ZAPPER
As a color commentator, Bill Walton will be nearly as much a
presence during the NBA Finals (beginning this week on NBC) as
he was 20 years ago in leading the Portland Trail Blazers to
their only NBA title. With his "That's terr-ible!" mantra, Big
Red is as astute, if not as gruff, an analyst as anyone on the
air. "How can you ever argue an illegal defense call?" he
recently asked in exasperation after one such disputed ruling.
"It's a bailout call for the referees!" Walton grates on some
viewers, but unlike the refs, he never shies from a tough call.