White Sox at Orioles
The difference is pitching. In 1996 the Baltimore pitching staff
produced one shutout, which tied the American League record for
fewest in a season. This season behind the arms of Scott
Erickson, Jimmy Key (right) and Mike Mussina, plus the relief
mastery of Randy Myers, the Orioles as of last Friday had seven
shutouts and the American League's best record (55-31), with
nine more wins at midseason than a year ago. Yes, the Baltimore
hitters still go long in Camden Yards (103 home runs) and Cal
Ripken Jr. still plays each day, but this year the Orioles are
scarier on the mound than at the plate.
FOX, 1 PM
United at Wizards
Despite having the MLS's second-best record (12-6) as of last
Friday, Kansas City ranked last in attendance (8,661 a game).
Why aren't more Missourians off to see the Wizards? Because,
because, because, because.... To tell the truth, the citizens of
the Show Me State have no excuse. K.C. has demonstrated its
wizardry by drubbing defending league champ D.C. United 6-1 and
had won six of its last eight games. Midfielder Preki was the
league's leading scorer, with eight goals and nine assists.
ESPN2, 8:30 PM
The last time the British Open was held at Scotland's Royal
Troon, in 1989, the regulation 72 holes ended in a three-way
tie, and Mark Calcavecchia outdueled Wayne Grady and Greg Norman
(right) in the tournament's unique four-hole playoff format. But
Calcavecchia hasn't won a major since, and Grady is still
looking for his first. Norman won the '93 British Open but has
failed to survive the cut at this season's first two majors.
Should Tiger Woods win for the seventh time this year
($1,761,033 thus far in 1997 winnings), the world will bear
witness to the PGA Tour's first two-million-dollar-man march.
ABC, 9:30 AM
Mile High Nationals
Blaine Johnson had won three events and was the leader in the
National Hot Rod Association Top Fuel standings when his car
slammed into a wall and he was killed last August--making him
the first Top Fuel dragster fatality since 1971. Instead of
closing shop, Blaine's brother and crew chief, Alan, invited
Gary Scelzi to replace Blaine this season. All that Scelzi, a
36-year-old rookie, has done in 11 starts is win four races and
stake the Alan Johnson team to a commanding lead in the points
standings. "There was only one Blaine," says Scelzi, who keeps a
picture of his predecessor in his dragster's cockpit, "and it
will always be that way."
ESPN2, 6:30 PM
Mercury at Monarchs
Summertime and the Mercury is soaring in Phoenix. Before the
debut of the WNBA, this was hardly headline material. In fact,
when Australian native and Phoenix point guard Michelle Timms
(above) boasted in the preseason that the Mercury was going to
be "the running team from hell," not a few pundits noted that at
least she got it half right. But as of last Friday, Tank Girl,
as Timms is known for her blonde punk hairdo, was second in the
league in steals (3.29 per game) and tied for fourth in assists
(5.6), and the Mercury--who will beat the heat with this visit
to second-place Sacramento--was atop the Western Conference
thanks to its up-tempo style. Credit coach Cheryl Miller with
instilling an attitude, says Timms, "that makes you want to give
110 percent." In a city where the mercury hits 110[degrees], who
could ask for less?
ESPN, 8:30 PM
All times Eastern. Schedules are subject to change.
THE ! ZAPPER
Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who's the fairest of the tall? Is
it still 6'3" volleyball player Gabrielle Reece, 27, the avatar
of beauty and the beach who is profiled on Model (E!, Saturday,
7:30 p.m.)? Or has center Lisa Leslie of the WNBA's Los Angeles
Sparks--taller by two inches, younger by two years and owner of
an Olympic gold medal--supplanted Reece as the model role model?
Who cares? Leslie, who last Friday was leading her league in
rebounding (9.2 per game) and was second in scoring (17.8) and
blocked shots (2.0), is an early favorite for MVP. Reece's pro
beach-volleyball foursome, Team Nike, had won its last four
matches through last Friday, and the spry spiker was second in
kills (158) on the Bud Light tour. Being good is looking good.