OCTOBER 24, 2005
VOLUME 103, NO. 16


38 Going the Distance

Thanks to four straight complete games, the White Sox are heading to the Series
by Tom Verducci
• Houston's on the brink of a pennant
• Charting the White Sox' dominance

48 Lake Woebegone

A night of debauchery aboard two yachts is the latest scandal for the Vikings, a franchise that has become rudderless
by Michael Silver and George Dohrmann

52 Tragedy, Teamwork
A year after the plane crash that killed his son and nine others, NASCAR owner Rick Hendrick has another title in his sights
by Lars Anderson

56 Fantastic Finishes
There were nail-biters galore last Saturday when No. 1 USC stunned Notre Dame with three seconds to play
by Austin Murphy
• Five other last-gasp showdowns

It's Chemistry 101: combustible ingredients, unstable combinations and strange new formulas

64. Opposites Attract
In the infamously flammable Ron Artest, Pacers boss Larry Bird sees plenty of himself
by L. Jon Wertheim

78. Measure of Success
Moneyball has come to the NBA, as front offices find new stats to quantify a player's talent
by Chris Ballard

84. A Perfect Team
The Spurs have come up with a model roster. Here's another
by Ian Thomsen

86. 5 Minute Guide
What contenders need to have happen, what will happen and whom you'd want on your team
by Ian Thomsen

89. Scouting Reports
Breakdowns on all 30 teams, with lineups and scouts' takes

8 Leading Off
14 Letters
16 Contributors
19 Air and Space
As they have so often, the Vikings prove expert at mortifying Minnesotans by Steve Rushin
20 Scorecard
• SI writer's role in Wie's debut
• USA hoops bypasses NBA coaches
28 Faces in the Crowd
31 Players
148 The Life of Reilly
Ballroom dance student Matt Leinart's best move? Staying for his senior season at USC by Rick Reilly

Inside ...
142 The NFL
• Falcons' Vick just can't go slow
• Bledsoe's in a groove in Dallas

146 College Football
• The Red Raiders' air superiority
• New offense sputters in Florida

INSET PHOTO: Kevork Djansezian/AP

SI Extra
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•What will San Diego's LaDainian Tomlinson (left) do for an encore after rushing for a TD, catching a TD and tossing a TD pass in Sunday's 27-14 defeat of the Raiders? Find out what Peter King and Dr. Z have to say about the Chargers-Eagles showdown at

•For the first time since Nellie Fox and the Go-Go Sox of 1959, Chicago's South Side squad is in the World Series, this time with Jon Garland (right) and a potent pitching staff trying to end the franchise's 88-year title drought. For a Fall Classic preview, the best photos in World Series history and Tom Verducci's postgame analysis, go to

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PHOTOCHUCK SOLOMON (ALCS) 38 SOX HOP Second baseman Tadahito Iguchi grabbed a throw on Chone Figgins's steal, and Chicago grabbed the AL pennant from the Angels. PHOTOJOHN W. MCDONOUGH (YAO)Yao Ming PHOTOROBERT BENSON/WIREIMAGE.COM (WIE) 20 ERRANT TOSS In her first event as a pro, 16-year-old Michelle Wie (with caddie Greg Johnston) was disqualified after making an illegal drop last Saturday, then signing an incorrect scorecard. PHOTOPETER READ MILLER (TOMLINSON) PHOTOJAMIE SABAU (GARLAND) PHOTOBOB ROSATO (HODGES)