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SI View The Week in TV Sports

Saturday 8/22

Astros at Cubs

Have your radar guns and K rations ready. At week's end, and
barring any calamities or changes in Chicago's or Houston's
pitching rotation, Cubs rookie Kerry Wood (left) was set to
match smoke with Astros ace Randy Johnson in this game. It could
turn out to be the duel of the season. On July 31 Houston
acquired the 6'10" Johnson for a song. With the Astros, the Big
Unit was 3-0 with a pair of shutouts. Meanwhile, Wood, who was
third in the majors (behind Johnson and the Phillies' Curt
Schilling) in whiffs, struck out 11 Astros in the Cubs' 2-1 win
on Sunday. Speaking of rotation and song and Texas and one-hit
wonders (Johnson has tossed three), there's a band from Austin
whose tune The Way topped the charts and who would be ideal to
sing the national anthem. Its name: Fastball.

WNBA Semifinals

How 'Becca Got Her Groove Back: On July 16 the New York Liberty
was 8-9, and center-forward Rebecca Lobo was playing sluggishly.
Then Liberty coach Nancy Darsch relinquished the play-calling to
point guard Teresa Weatherspoon, and New York responded by
winning 10 of 11; Lobo led the Libs in either scoring or
rebounding in the last nine, including her 12-rebound
performance in last Saturday's 70-54 thrashing of the Western
Conference champion Houston Comets. Through last weekend the
Cleveland Rockers, like the Comets, had clinched a berth in the
best two-of-three playoff semifinals, with the Liberty, the
Charlotte Sting and the Phoenix Mercury battling for the
remaining two spots. (Game 1 of the Finals will be Thursday at 8
p.m. on ESPN and Lifetime.) Memo to groupies of the WNB-Ays, the
band featured on ESPN's promos: Those badass brothas will
perform at halftime of Houston's home games.

Monday 8/24

Packers at Broncos

What more do John Elway (left) and Brett Favre have to do to
earn cash and some respect, respectively? Last week Elway, the
hero of Denver's 31-24 Super Bowl XXXII triumph over Green
Bay--we interrupt this item to report that Broncos offensive
tackle Gary Zimmerman is still retired and Packers defensive end
Reggie White is still unretired, we think--agreed to restructure
his contract. Elway's 1998 base salary will be reduced from $4.8
million to $300,000, meaning that Broncos reserve signal-callers
Bubby Brister, Jeff Lewis and Brian Griese will each outearn
Elway in '98. Favre, meanwhile, is the NFL's reigning MVP and
has taken Green Bay to the last two Super Bowls. Plus, to our
knowledge, he has never spoken a bad word about "exceptional"
people. So why did Cameron Diaz choose Ben Stiller over him?

Surfer Girl

In this one-hour film, featuring the most stunning beach
cinematography this side of Spielberg, surfer chicks rule.
Four-time world champions Wendy Botha and Frieda Zamba and four
other female aces hit the surf off the coast of the Fiji Islands
and get board silly. There's plenty of surf music and women in
wet suits, but what really grabs you is the within-the-wave
filming that captures the essence of the sport. Viewer advisory:
Grab a towel, a leash and some zinc oxide if you plan to ride
this one out.

Friday 8/28

William Joppy vs. Roberto Duran

Even before he turned pro--31 years, 116 bouts, four
championship belts and one no mas ago--Roberto Duran (left,
against Hector Camacho in '96) and his hands of stone gained
legendary status when he knocked out a horse with a single
punch. Tonight's 12-round middleweight championship bout from
Las Vegas will pit Duran, 47, against speedy counterpuncher
William Joppy, 27, in a fight to unify the WBA and the IRS.
Joppy holds the belt of the former; Duran, who is scheduled to
earn $250,000, is reportedly $300,000 in arrears to the latter,
an agency whose auditing of Duran is proof that you can get
blood from stone. Say buenas noches, Roberto.


COLOR PHOTO: STEPHEN GREEN [Kerry Wood pitching]

COLOR PHOTO: PETER READ MILLER [John Elway running with ball]

COLOR PHOTO: JOHN IACONO [Roberto Duran and Hector Camacho in boxing match]


Wapner was too cranky. Judy is too gruff. Mills Lane is our kind
of judge. In fact, if you believe the intro to his new
syndicated half-hour courtroom show, Judge Mills Lane, boxing's
feisty referee is "America's judge." Wading through a morass of
idiots (Yo, people! You're on TV and in a courtroom! No tank
tops!), Lane adjudicates civil cases in a firm yet good-natured
manner. We expect this program to go the distance but wonder,
given Lane's skill at separating pugilists, if his talents would
not be better served on Jerry Springer.