Falcons coach Mike Smith handed the keys to the offense to rookie Matt Ryan(above). Smith said Ryan—who's 32 of 52 for 277 yards with two TDs and oneinterception in the preseason—is his starter for the whole season: "We feelthat Matt gives us the best opportunity not only against Detroit [in theopener] but in the long run."
Who needs Carl Crawford? Returning after a 15-month battle with a mysteriousillness that sapped his strength, Baldelli hit two homers in his second weekback as injury-depleted Tampa Bay caught the Angels for the best record in theAL.
Boom Goes theDynamite!
Remember Brian Collins, the Ball State student whose campus sportscastcatchphrase made him an Internet phenom (and not the good kind)? He stuck withhis dream and got an on-air job at KXXV-TV in Waco. "I'm very happy withwhere I am right now," said Collins.
August 31, 2008
The Bump 'n'Run
Carl Edwards used the ol' chrome horn on Kyle Busch at Bristol, knocking himaside to pass with 30 laps left. Busch, who led the previous 415 laps, griped,but Edwards said, "I just had to ask myself, Would he do that to me? And hehas before, so that's the way it goes."
When the Cardinals' season opens, Matt Leinart will be carrying aclipboard—assuming he doesn't turn it over. Against the Raiders last Saturday,Leinart was 4 of 12 with three picks and a 2.8 passer rating. "It wasn'tall Matt," said coach Ken Whisenhunt, who nonetheless named Kurt Warner,37, his starter.
Rock and Roll
At the closing ceremonies Brit singer Leona Lewis joined bad boy Jimmy Page onLed Zep's Whole Lotta Love. But many of the racy lyrics were excised, leavingfans dazed and confused. Whatever happened to rebellion?
Talk about your embarrassing moments. The Japanese synchronized swimmer faintedduring the competition and had to be pulled from the pool by two officials. Theupshot: She was fine, but Japan was penalized for touching the bottom of thepool and finished fifth. Somewhere Martin Short smiled.
The Kick to theFace
Someone needs to explain the Olympic spirit to Cuban judoku Angel Matos (left).After a call went against him, he kicked the ref in the chops. Where did helearn such bad sportsmanship? Perhaps from his coach, who called the ref"too strict" and accused his Kazakh opponents of offering him abribe.
SI PLAYERS MLB POLL
Do you favor the use of instant replay to review homeruns?
Yes ..... 72%
No ..... 28%
To review close plays on the base paths?
Yes .... 19%
No ..... 81%
After a spate of controversial home runs this season, MLB is planning toimplement instant replay to review homers and other close fair-or-foul calls(page 28).... Players with fewer than five years' experience are somewhat moreopposed to instant replay: More than half are against using it to reviewhomers, and more than 85% don't want it to settle base path plays.
[Based on a survey of 444 players] • For more on thepoll, and to comment on it, go to SI.com/players.