The 41-year-old Yankees lefty skipped his last spring start against the Red Sox ("No sense letting them see what I have," the Big Unit said), then stepped into the whirlwind of the New York--Boston rivalry and set 'em down easy: six innings, one run, six K's, before departing to cheers in Yanks' Opening Night win. Said Johnson, "It was nice."
After 72 games last year Chicago was 20-52 and assured of its sixth straight season without a playoff berth. Now it's 41-31, has won nine straight while overcoming injuries and is closing in on home court advantage for the postseason's first round. "That's very impressive," coach Scott Skiles told the Chicago Tribune.
Leaders of Tomorrow
Chargers QB Drew Brees (left) and Pats TE Christian Fauria went beyond reading defenses this week. They and 64 other NFLers are to hone their business skills in three-day executive education programs at Harvard and Wharton business schools--and the NFL is paying for it.
The seasoned Triple Crown trainer (his Birdstone whipped Smarty Jones in the Belmont last year) finished one-two in last Saturday's Florida Derby with High Fly (right) and Noble Causeway. He now has that pair, plus George Steinbrenner's Bellamy Road and, perhaps the star of his stable, Sun King, poised for the May 7 Kentucky Derby.
Returning to the scene of his greatest triumph (perfect game, May 17, 1998), Boston's 41-year-old lefty came in with a Soxian beard, was showered with boos even before he left the bullpen. Then he unraveled, balking in a run and allowing four runs and 10 hits, before being pulled in the fifth. Said Boomer afterward, "It wasn't a great night."
After 73 games last year L.A. was 50-23 and tuning up for a 10th consecutive playoff berth. Now, after a 20-point loss to the Grizzlies on Sunday, it's 33-40, has lost 11 of 12 and, with Lamar Odom sidelined and Kobe limping, can forget the postseason. "We know elimination is coming," said coach Frank Hamblen.
A Star of Yesterday
Shawn Kemp, who was plagued by paternity suits during his career as a six-time NBA All-Star forward, was arrested on Monday and was being investigated for drug possession. He was jailed in Seattle, the city where he spent eight seasons and went to the 1996 Finals.
A seasoned Triple Crown trainer (his horses have won eight of those races), he finished third in last Saturday's WinStar Derby with Sort It Out, and, with his star Roman Ruler nursing a sore foot, there's a chance he'll be without a horse for the Kentucky Derby. This would be only the second Baffert-less Derby in 10 years.
KATHY WILLENS/AP (JOHNSON)
BILL KOSTROUN/REUTERS (WELLS)
JOHN W. MCDONOUGH (BREES)
TOM TREICK (KEMP)
GARY I. ROTHSTEIN/ICON SMI (HIGH FLY)
AL MESSERSCHMIDT/WIREIMAGE.COM (BAFFERT)