Saturday 8/30

WNBA Championship Game

Astronomy lessons, 1997: 1) Elton John was right--Mars ain't the
kind of place to raise your kids; and 2) If you're going to
follow a Comet to nirvana, better to hitch your wagon to Cynthia
Cooper than to Hale-Bopp. At week's end Cooper, Houston's
smooth-shooting guard, was poised to lead her team into the
WNBA's first title game. Having achieved the league's best
regular-season record (18-10), the Comets were assured of
playing any postseason games at The Summit. There, going into
the Aug. 28 semifinal against the Charlotte Sting, Houston was
9-5. This was looming as a doubly big week for Cooper: The
league's leading scorer (22.2 average) was the overwhelming
favorite to win the WNBA's MVP award that was scheduled to be
announced on Aug. 27.

Monday 9/1

Orioles at Marlins

Surprise! Baltimore third baseman Cal Ripken (left) plans to
work on Labor Day. Besides having baseball's best record (83-44)
at week's end, the Birds are 7-0 this season against last fall's
World Series participants, the Atlanta Braves and the New York
Yankees. Florida is 10-5 against the same foes, which augurs
well for the possibility of another interleague series in
October between the Orioles and the Marlins.

Wednesday 9/3

Hoop Dreams

If Upton Sinclair had been born a century later, he might have
turned his muckraker's eye from Chicago's stockyards and toward
its playgrounds to depict the seamy underbelly of the American
dream. Arthur Agee and William Gates are real-life Chicagoans,
high school basketball stars whose divergent odysseys are
chronicled over a four-year period. Since Gates and Agee live in
the shadow of the arena where Michael Jordan earns his fame, can
anyone fault their families for their myopic pursuit of hoops
success as an escape from poverty? Two other Chicagoans, film
critics Siskel & Ebert, selected Hoop Dreams above Pulp Fiction
and Academy Award winner Forrest Gump as the best film of 1994.

Thursday 9/4

Auburn at Virginia

What do the Terry Bowden (left) era at Auburn and NYPD Blue have
in common? Each program made its debut in September 1993, and
neither could be seen on TV in Alabama. On probation, the Tigers
hosted Ole Miss on a Thursday night but were banned from
appearing on TV. As for the ABC cop series, Alabamians simply
feared a full-moon view of David Caruso. (Say, what do Caruso
and Peyton Manning have in common?) Cavaliers sophomore tailback
Thomas Jones must secure the pigskin against a Tigers defense
that has 10 starters back in a unit that forced a Division
I-high 36 turnovers in '96.

Friday 9/5

U.S. Open: Women's Semifinals

If form has held, today two of the sport's queens, top-ranked
Martina Hingis (above) and No. 2 Monica Seles, will be playing
in Queens, though not against each other. That matchup would
have to wait for the Sept. 7 final (CBS, 2 p.m.). So far this
year, wunderkind Hingis, a mere 16 years old, has a 4-0 record
against former wunderkind Seles, seven years her senior.
CBS, 11 AM

COLOR PHOTO: RONALD C. MODRA [Cal Ripken Jr.] COLOR PHOTO: R.D. MOORE [Terry Bowden] COLOR PHOTO: BOB MARTIN [Martina Hingis playing tennis]


Rowdy one Hank Williams Jr. is joined by the cast of Bring in
'da Noise, Bring in 'da Funk to update the musical intro for
Monday Night Football (ABC, 9 p.m.) this season. An inspired
idea, this, one that leads to musing about having other casts
from the Great White Way perform team-specific intros. The gang
from Chicago could work this week's game pitting da Bears and
the Packers. The pride from Cats could purr, "Are you ready for
some football?" when the Jaguars, Lions or Panthers play. Pity
that neither the Giants nor the Falcons appear on MNF in
'97--Les Miserables would have been perfect.

All times Eastern. Schedules are subject to change.