Sunday, June 22, 2003

Page Two power rankings



By Mike Ball
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Thumbs up

1. The Ivy League. It has adopted tougher academic standards for incoming athletes. What, is it trying to completely embarrass the other conferences?

2. ESPN Classic. Always awesome. Today's helping: classic Wimbledon highlights, including Bjorn Borg's epic victory over John McEnroe in 1980, 1-6, 7-5, 6-3, 6-7 (16-18), 8-6.

3. Full houses at Great American Ball Park. The big crowds have made the furious finishes even more exciting. Now, let's see if the games still mean something after the Reds come home from this 19-road-games-in-a-22-game-stretch leading up to the All-Star break. Tickets could be easy to come by.

4. Casey McAlister. The young son of local radio personality Lance is continuing his battle with leukemia. Prayers for Sean Casey's biggest, and bravest, fan.

5. NASCAR. The increasingly popular series got a brand new $700 million sponsorship deal with Nextel. We know the sport has been heading hard toward the mainstream, but this just might ruin the good ol' boys' image.

6. Brad Johnson. The Tampa Bay Bucs quarterback is sitting pretty with his $25 million contract extension. Let's get this straight: A quarterback led his team to victory in the Super Bowl, then got rewarded with the big bucks? What a concept.

7. Randy Ayers and Kevin O'Neill. The two ordinary college coaches - Ayers was 124-108 at Ohio State, and O'Neill 190-197 at three stops - move into NBA head coaching jobs. (Will Ayers get to coach Gary Williams' players?)

8. The College World Series. Great competition with less PING! And the new best-of-three format for the final is the best idea yet.

Thumbs down

1. Dusty Baker. The Cubs manager seemed to have a problem with the Reds' "Hop" celebration. Let's see, don't recall him mentioning anything when Barry Bonds would do a pirouette on his way to first after homering. Or maybe we missed Baker's criticisms of Sammy Sosa's home run hop.

2. David Stern. The NBA commissioner said he expected lower ratings for the Finals because the games were moved up a half hour. Yep, that explains the worst ratings since the Finals were tape-delayed.

3. Kenyon Martin. He has turned into one heck of a pro. But he had one heck of a time against the Spurs.

4. The Arena Bowl. Those two weeks of hype between the conference finals are just maddening.

5. Bob Boone. A failed suicide squeeze with one out and Barry Larkin on deck Thursday. A failed hit and run with Danny Graves batting and a man on with no outs Friday. Never a dull moment.

6. The Los Angeles Sparks. The WNBA juggernaut lost twice in a row after a 9-0 start. Disappointing.

7. American heavyweights. Saturday's Lennox Lewis-Vitali Klitschko match was pretty good. But where have the U.S. heavies gone?

8. Jose Canseco. Points for originality - getting busted while being under house arrest. That pretty much puts 40-40 to shame.

---
E-mail mball@enquirer.com




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ENQUIRER PAGE TWO
They're no angels in the outfield
Morganna vs. William Ligue Jr.
Page Two power rankings

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