NCAA College World Series Final
CBS 2:30 PM La's are as prominent in Omaha this week as they are
in one of Phoebe Buffay's inscrutable songs. At one end of the
spectrum there's diamond ingenue Louisiana-Lafayette (48-19),
a.k.a. La La, making its World Series debut. Then there's La.
St. (49-17), a.k.a. LSU, bidding for its fifth national
championship since 1990. No smelly cats, these Tigers, who have
set school records for hits (838 at week's end) and team batting
average (.345) during the season.
Oscar De La Hoya vs. Shane Mosley
TVKO 9 PM ($49.95) The undefeated Mosley (34-0, 32 KOs) and the
once-beaten De La Hoya (32-1, 26 KOs) are Southern Californians
who once sparred with each other in their prepubescent years.
Mosley claims to have gotten the better of De La Hoya, which we
imagine will incite this exchange when they meet in the ring at
L.A.'s Staples Center in a fight for De La Hoya's welterweight
title: "Did not." "Did, too." "Did not." Both fighters are
former lightweight world champs.
Yankees at White Sox
WGN 8 PM Baby, what a big surprise! The band Chicago practically
penned the theme music for this year's Pale Hose, who through
Sunday had the best record (37-24) in the American League. First
baseman Frank Thomas, a year removed from his worst major league
season, is alive again and feeling stronger every day. Alas,
playing in unpopular Comiskey Park, the White Sox were drawing a
mere 20,358 fans per game, even after three sellouts against the
Cubs last weekend. For Chicagoans, not going to Comiskey is a
hard habit to break.
NBC SATURDAY AND SUNDAY 1:30 PM This just in: Those unabashed
ageists from Survivor just banished Bob Hope! Survivor has taken
a cue from Logan's Run, a film in which people were sentenced to
death upon turning 30. Phil Mickelson (above), whose big
three-oh arrives two days before Sunday's final round, most
likely will have survived his birthday and Friday's cut.
Mickelson has already won three tournaments this year. His
second-place finish at last year's Open was his seventh top 10
finish in a major and his closest flirtation with victory in one
of the biggies. He just may walk away from the Pebble Beach
course with the Championship Cup and the winner's purse of
A SMALL VICTORY
The ratings for ABC's Stanley Cup telecasts were excellent--for
On June 7, NBC televised Game 1 of the NBA Finals and earned a
10.5 rating in the Nielsens. One night later ABC aired Game 5 of
the Stanley Cup finals, a triple-overtime duel for the ages in
which the Stars defeated the Devils 1-0. That match earned a
4.2. That was the highest national rating a hockey game had
received since 1980, when the Cup-deciding Flyers-Islanders Game
6 pulled a 4.4 on CBS.
A triumph for ABC? Yes, but.... In that same Thursday time slot
one week earlier, the network had aired the week's top-rated
program, a certain game show that earned a 16.0. If you're
scoring at home, that's Regis Philbin 16.0, David Stern 10.5 and
the NHL residing somewhere in the Freaks & Geeks Nielsen
netherworld. Though the ratings were small for prime time, you
can't blame ABC. The network's production values, camera angles
and announcers, especially analysts John Davidson and the
underrated Barry Melrose, were superb, as was the game.
Then, two nights later, for the second consecutive season the
Stanley Cup was clinched late at night, on network television,
in an overtime. This year's clincher received a 5.2 in the
overnight Nielsens (which should end up being about equal to
Thursday night's figure when all the numbers are crunched). You
could have flipped the channel just as Devil Jason Arnott scored
the Cup-winning goal, and caught NBC's Saturday Night Live,
whose original cast was labeled The Not Ready for Prime Time
Players. Despite herculean efforts, that designation may still
apply to the NHL. --J.W.
Memo to Marion Jones: You ask on your Nike spots, "Why are
sisters making less when they're busting their butts to the
max?" For the same reason that Nike can sell shoes for $140:
That's what the market dictates.... ABC's Lesley Visser looked
woefully uninformed when asking Bob and Beverly Lewis, who own
Belmont Stakes victor Commendable, how this triumph ranked with
their other Belmont wins. The Lewises, previously winless in the
race, own Silver Charm and Charismatic, whose Triple Crown hopes
were dashed at Belmont. If Visser's producers didn't so inform
her, they also deserve a night in the barn.
Siteful of Trouble
Deadbeat dads, boozed-up ballplayers and musclebound miscreants.
Ladies and gentlemen, tonight's starting lineup...
As the sports world devolves into a morass of lawlessness, fans
find it more difficult to keep tabs on their favorite players.
Does tight end Mark Chmura (late of the Packers) have an
affinity for minors and closer John Rocker an aversion to them,
or is it the other way around? If you need help keeping track of
the arrests, log on to www.cracksmoker.com. Created in April
1999 by Silicon Valley Internet employees and housemates Chris
Burke and Scott Pearse, cracksmoker.com is a dazzling database
of athletic malfeasance.
According to the site's homepage, the word cracksmoker doesn't
apply just to those who inhale the illegal cocaine-based
substance. Instead, the term, as defined by Burke and Pearse
when they were UCLA students, can be applied to any
"professional or collegiate athlete who exhibits behavior not
fit for society." More than 450 sports figures are chronicled on
cracksmoker.com (with lengthy entries for chronic recidivists
such as the NBA's Isaiah Rider and baseball's Darryl
Strawberry). The site lists the trials, legal and otherwise, of
players from five entities: MLB, NBA, NFL, NHL and Fresno State.
"The [1997-98] Fresno State basketball team is the alltime
Cracksmoker All-Stars," says Burke, referring to, among others,
center Avondre Jones, convicted of possession of marijuana and a
firearm; guard Rafer Alston, convicted of simple assault; and
guard Chris Herren, who spent the early part of the season in a
substance-abuse center. Given that legacy, says Burke, "our
primary sources are the Internet, national newspapers and The
Burke and Pearse name a Cracksmoker of the Month (April's was
Chmura, who has been charged with sexual assault of a
17-year-old girl), but otherwise "we simply post their
[newspaper] stories with attribution and provide a link back to
the source," says Burke.
Where cracksmoker.com does leave readers high and dry is
resolution. Most athletes who appear on the site are shown to be
facing charges even if those charges have been resolved.
Shockingly, this is true even of some athletes who have been
found innocent. Follow-up stories of exoneration or dropped
charges are scarce.
"There are so many more links that we could do," Burke says. "A
Jimmy Johnson Miami Hurricanes era link, for example. It's a
little depressing just how much bad behavior there is out there."
Are you kidding? It's positively vial. --J.W.
COLOR PHOTO: ROBERT BECK
COLOR PHOTO: AP/ANDY MANIS Cracksmoker.com posts reports on the woes of jocks like Chmura (above), Strawberry (lower left) and Rider.
COLOR PHOTO: AP/DON RYAN (RIDER) [See caption above]
COLOR PHOTO: AP/BRUCE HOSKING (STRAWBERRY) [See caption above]