1. The Cardinals: Don't look now, but St. Louis is running away with the National League Central. And it's doing so without Mark McGwire. An extra $30 million in player payroll buys you some depth.
2. Lakers-Spurs series: Hey, it took six months, but the NBA finally got interesting. Shaq vs. the Admiral and Duncan makes this one worth tuning in to. Plus, Kobe isn't a bad little player either.
3. Tyrone Hill: The old Muskie is thriving in the NBA playoffs with the Philadelphia 76ers. Let's just hope it keeps him out of those dice games with his fellow NBAers.
4. Brian Reith: Throwing 5 2/3 innings of no-hit ball in your big-league debut is sweet enough. But with the Reds about to switch to the let's-look-to-the-future mode any day now, guys like Reith are a reason to keep going to the ballpark.
5. The Bengals: All the offseason moves have talk radio buzzing with optimism. Check back with us around Oct. 1.
|| Bottom five |
1. The Reds: Things are bad and getting worse. The lightweight bench has caught up to them with all the injuries.
2. The Reds, again: Players have been whining about fans booing. Live with it, fellows. You don't win, you get booed. It's a fact of life. At the end of the day, you still have more money than most middle-class neighborhoods.
3. Cinergy Field: The renovations make the place tolerable. But some things haven't changed. Concession stands were closing just as Thursday's rain delay ended. The problem: There were six innings left to play.
4. The Mets: You think the Reds have problems? The defending National League champions dropped to 10 games under .500 last week. Guess they're going to miss Mike Hampton after all.
5. Darryl Strawberry: A judge gives him another chance. Our guess is this is going to end badly. The Straw keeps fouling off pitches in the game of life, but sooner or later he's going to swing through one or take strike three.