Every pundit's darling (after 2005's season-closing six-game winning streak)unveiled QB Daunte Culpepper (left), he of the big arm and optimistic swagger.(RB Ronnie Brown: "It kind of rubs off on everybody else.") Even raincouldn't dampen the mood of the first practice--the Fins retreated into new $9million indoor practice facility.
The Mets' pair--Beltran and Delgado--hit .440 with five homers and 15 RBIs--ina sweep of Atlanta. The Cubs' Zambrano (right) won his 12th game. (Cy Young,anyone?) And Baldomir's a welterweight champ!
Alum Corey Pavin, 46, won his first PGA title in 10 years. And the hoops teamis getting some serious Love. Coveted recruit 6'9", 260-pound Kevin Lovepicked UCLA over North Carolina. Love on the reaction of Bruins coach BenHowland: "When I told him, he almost started crying."
With three straight wins--including last week in his native Germany--theFormula One superhero, in second place, has standings leader Fernando Alonsochecking his rearview.
Ouch! Not again! In the first drill of camp Pro Bowl center LeCharles Bentley(right) suffered a season-ending knee injury. Add him to the list of Brownsdowned in recent years: Tim Couch, Kellen Winslow, Braylon Edwards, etc. AfterOL Ryan Tucker injured his knee on Day Two, stoic coach Romeo Crennel told theAkron Beacon Journal, "If you dwell on the negative, you won't get pastit."
Even after bringing in Roger Clemens and slugger Aubrey Huff (left), the Astroswere swooning, having lost seven of 10. The Rangers landed Carlos Lee (page77), then dropped two straight to the Royals.
Those are the respective nicknames of Chicago's MLS and WNBA franchises--acombined 9-30-7. The Fire hasn't won at home in five games, and the last-placeSky's attendance is the lowest in the WNBA. Said Sky rookie Candice Dupree,"We just have to ... keep our heads up."
Everything has a price. The hockey great's hometown of St. Albert, Alberta, isselling the naming rights to Mark Messier Arena, as it's been called since1992, to generate funds for a new facility.
SI PLAYERS MLBPOLL
Which team do you think will win the World Series?
White Sox .....32%
Tigers ..... 30%
Red Sox ..... 15%
Mets ..... 14%
FAST FACTS Pollwas conducted throughout July.... Players could not vote for their own team....Through Sunday the White Sox had gone 4--11 since the All-Star break.... TheTwins, who had gone 35--10 since June 8 to move within 1 1/2 games of the ALwild card, received just three votes, finishing seventh on the list behind theCardinals (3%) and the Yankees (1%).... Voters from the AL Central chose theTigers (26%) and the Mets (26%) over the White Sox (19%).
[Based on asurvey of 391 MLB players] • For an expanded version of the poll, go toSI.com/Players.
MARC SEROTA/REUTERS (CULPEPPER); DAVID I. ANDERSEN/AP (BROWNS); RAY STUBBLEBINE/REUTERS (HUFF); LOU CAPOZZOLA (MESSIER); STEVE C. MITCHELL/EPA (SCHUMACHER); DAMIAN STROHMEYER (ZAMBRANO)