The British Commonwealth may be crumbling (toodles, Hong Kong!),
but at week's end Merrie Old England was surviving at Wimbledon.
Britannia's favorite son, Tim Henman, was one of nine seeded
players left in a men's draw that included defending champ
Richard Krajicek and the U.S.'s Pete Sampras, Alex O'Brien and
Richey Reneberg. Mary Joe Fernandez was the only remaining Yank
on the women's side, where three of the top four seeds--in
order, Martina Hingis, Jana Novotna and Iva Majoli--had survived
a waterlogged first week.
NBC, 9 AM, WOMEN'S FINAL; SUNDAY, 9 AM, MEN'S FINAL
Tour de France
Don't believe any of the blarney about Bjarne. In three races
last month, 1996 Tour champion Bjarne Riis (left) finished no
better than 12th, provoking talk that the bald-pated Dane would
be an uneasy rider in France. Not to worry, says Riis, who
recently has been riding "just to get miles in my legs." The man
who last year boldly predicted he would wrest le maillot jaune
from five-time winner Miguel Indurain (now retired) has another
forecast: "I think I'll win it again." ABC shows taped coverage
of today's 4.5-mile prologue and Sunday's stage 1; ESPN and
ESPN2 will telecast reports after each of the 2,449-mile race's
21 stages through July 27.
ABC, 4:30 PM; SUNDAY, 4 PM
1997 Home Run Derby
Oakland Athletics first baseman Mark McGwire (above) and his
33-ounce white ash bash for cash. McGwire, who launched a
538-foot clout on June 24 at Seattle's Kingdome, returns to
Cleveland's Jacobs Field, where he's the only hitter ever to
have reached the scoreboard. If any of this event's 10 sluggers
(five from each league) hits one of the two bull's-eyes placed
in the stands down the leftfield and rightfield lines today or
during Tuesday night's All-Star Game, one lucky soul in the
stands (chosen at random by ticket stubs) will win $1 million.
ESPN, 9 PM (TAPE-DELAY)
Streaking, we are told, is now as passe as the New Kids on the
Block. But it's alive and well in the All-Star Game, in which
since 1960 the National League has had winning streaks of four,
eight and 11 games. After a six-year American League aberration
from 1988 to '93, the Nationals have won three straight heading
into this midsummer classic at Jacobs Field. As if the Nationals
(40-26-1 in All-Star play) didn't have enough history in their
favor, they already have a winning record at the Jake this
year--the Cincinnati Reds took two of three there from the
Indians last month during interleague play.
FOX, 8 PM
MLS All-Star Game
The leading scorer in Major League Soccer is an American--and
he's not on the U.S. national team. "Of course it bothers me,"
says Preki (left), a Kansas City Wizards midfielder who at
week's end had 25 points but hadn't been called on by U.S. coach
Steve Sampson since January. "I would be thrilled to get back on
[the national team], but it seems that I'm being overlooked," he
says. "I don't know why." The Yugoslavian-born Preki, whose last
name is Radosavljevic but who in American soccer circles is
known by his nickname, will have to settle for a spot on the MLS
Western Conference roster in a game (played at Giants Stadium,
home of the New York-New Jersey MetroStars) whose lineups
include 17 current national teamers from eight countries.
ESPN, 7:30 PM
All times Eastern. Schedules are subject to change.
COLOR PHOTO: PHIL COLE/ALLSPORT [Bjarne Riis cycling]
COLOR PHOTO: OTTO GREULE/ALLSPORT [Mark McGwire batting]
COLOR PHOTO: BRIAN BAHR/ALLSPORT [Preki playing soccer]
COLOR PHOTO: SIMON BRUTY [Soccer ball]
THE ! ZAPPER
U.S. soccer fans are a long-suffering breed, a point underscored
last weekend when an important World Cup 1998 qualifying match
between the U.S. and El Salvador (page 48) was seen live in zero
households nationwide. Instead, the game was available only on
closed-circuit TV at commercial establishments willing to pay
fees ranging from $700 to $5,000 to Inter-Forever Sports, which
holds the rights to all of El Salvador's home games.
Inter-Forever had turned down ESPN's $10,000 offer for domestic
rights, believing it could earn more from closed-circuit
subscriptions. The losers were U.S. Soccer, which realizes
limited pay-TV is no way to attract much-needed support, and
soccer fans, most of whom didn't get to see a game they should
have been able to see at home for free.