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The next Jennie Finch
Patrick Schuster, the Florida high school pitcher who threw four straight no-hitters, had a nice run last month. But Rachele Fico has been on a better one for four years. The softball ace at Masuk High in Monroe, Conn., threw the 24th perfect game of her career last week, a national record. Her career ERA in 93 games: 0.06. Find videos of the LSU-bound star at takkle.com.
Meet the Fugees, a Clarkston, Ga., soccer team made up of refugee boys from such war-torn nations as Sudan, Kosovo and Iraq. In a rich and touching narrative New York Times reporter Warren St. John relates the boys' stories. The book is also a striking portrait of a uniquely American place: Clarkston, a once-traditional Southern town turned 21st-century immigrant haven.
A washed-up star revives his career with a surprise comeback; Mickey Rourke was nominated for a best actor Oscar for this film, now on DVD, but was he essentially playing himself? Rourke is brilliant as down-and-out pro wrestler Randy (the Ram) Robinson. The DVD extras include a roundtable with real ring gods and a video of Bruce Springsteen's title song.
The Final Four of Everything
Edited by Mark Reiter and Richard Sandomir, Final Four uses tournament-style brackets to settle debates on every topic but hoops. Best Olympic athlete? Most cathartic movie death? Top sitcom mom? All are decided here. (By the way, Clair Huxtable edges Shirley Partridge in the second round.) Order it or create your own at bracketsmackdown.com.
Yes, Lance Armstrong will ride in cycling's first major event of '09. Last week he finished second in New Mexico's Tour of the Gila, his first race since breaking his collarbone in March. Team Astana G.M. Johan Bruyneel doubts Armstrong is fit enough to win the Giro, which starts in Venice on Saturday. But fans, and Lance's Tour de France competition, will be watching.
The Players Championship
The Sawgrass shootout has the largest purse ($9.5 million this year) of any PGA Tour event. No wonder it attracts such a deep field. (NBC has Saturday and Sunday coverage.) This year's group includes 96 of the 2008 FedEx Cup top 100, including defending champ Sergio García and Tiger Woods, who hasn't had a top 10 Players finish since winning in '01.
The Pop Culture Grid
Athletes in the mix
Speidi is ...
When I was 10, I had a crush on ...
Most I ever spent on sunglasses
I really think I am obsessed with ...
Room service I always order
NYJER MORGAN Pirates OF
I think it's a card game
My third-grade teacher
$278 on a pair of Versaces
Keeping my room clean
French toast and berries
ROY OSWALT Astros P
A nickname for Spider-Man
I wasn't into girls at 10
$90 on some Oakleys
GERALD LAIRD Tigers C
I have no idea
Monique Mesa, a girl in my school
$325. I think they were Prada
Trying to be good at golf
REED JOHNSON Cubs OF
$100 for Black Flys with metal frames
Inside the Grid
Morgan's breakfast is a daily ritual. "Baseball people are superstitious," he says. "This is always my first meal." The 6'2" Laird weighs 195 pounds, but his sweet tooth could earn him the nickname of another catcher who played for the Tigers: Pudge. "It's usually ice cream over warm chocolate cake or a big piece of apple pie," Laird says of his order.
DOUGLAS HEALEY/AP (FICO)
FOX SEARCHLIGHT (DVD)
JAKE SCHOELLKOPF/AP (ARMSTRONG)
MIKE EHRMANN (GARCIA)
PAUL SAKUMA/AP (ABDUL)
BRAD MANGIN (JOHNSON)
PETER AIKEN/CAL SPORT MEDIA (LAIRD)
NILS NILSEN (OSWALT)
JEFF CURRY/US PRESSWIRE (MORGAN)
ETHAN MILLER/WIREIMAGE FOR PURE MANAGEMENT GROUP/GETTY IMAGES (SPEIDI)
MEL LEVINE (SUNGLASSES)