Sunday, January 25, 2004

Page Two power rankings

By Mike Ball
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Thumbs up

1. Arnie. Arnold Palmer began his 50th season in professional golf when he teed off in the MasterCard event on the Champions Tour Friday. The event also invited five other Hall of Famers - Jack Nicklaus, Lee Trevino, Gary Player, Hale Irwin and Tom Watson. Cool.

2. NASCAR. Traditionalists, not to mention some drivers and owners, are down on the changes to the championship points system. But how can it be bad? The first 26 races don't mean anything, they say? Well if you don't perform, then you can't make the top 10 and have a shot at the title. In the old system, if you weren't in the top 10 after 26 races, you didn't have a chance anyway.

3. Duke. The beauty of college basketball is that the polls don't really mean all that much. The tournament's the thing. Still, it was impressive when Duke reached the top spot in the men's poll for the seventh straight season this week. More impressive? Duke's streak is the second-longest all time. First, of course, is UCLA, which was No. 1 for 11 straight seasons from 1964-75. The Bruins won 10 national championships during that span.

4. Martina Navratilova. She's in the Australian Open, not only playing doubles but winning doubles matches with her partner Lisa Raymond. By the way, Navratilova was born in 1956!

5. The Cavaliers. They're protecting LeBron James from bad influences. First they traded Ricky Davis, then dealt Darius Miles, who had been a discipline problem. Good thought.

Thumbs down

1. Steroids. Sports does have a problem it needs to address. But a call for change in the State of the Union Address?

2. The Bulls mascot. Seems Chester Brewer, "Da Bull" since 1996, was busted for allegedly selling marijuana out of his car. Raise your hand if you thought the Trail Blazers' mascot would have been the favorite for that.

3. The New York Rangers. The NHL club was able to add Jaromir Jagr in a trade with Washington on Friday, primarily because of finances. Who do they think they are, the Yankees?

4. The Reds. Wow. The Reds added Todd Van Poppel to the 40-man roster Friday. That new ballpark sure has leveled the economic playing field, hasn't it? The projected payroll for this year is, what, $12 million-13 million less than last season?

5. Pete. He has every right to make a living. But a book signing in a casino? C'mon, Pete, you're not even trying.

UC rebounds from Louisville loss
Revenge was on Bearcats' minds
XU follows Chalmers' lead
Penn State transfer tremendous in practice
UK aims to stop Thomas again
RedHawks' plan: Get 'em down for good
Top 25: Duke cruises past Hoyas
Kelsey, Rupe rally Norse over Pumas

Cyber Shootout: What are the best XU-UC games of all time?

Reds insider: Stay tuned to job search
Reds e-mail Q&A
Cards losing ground in the NL Central
ChiSox turning to Japanese reliever

Daugherty: What makes Dantonio tick?

Coach not only tough decision Raiders face
Club hopes Super Bowl erases sordid past
Hype is always supercharged
Senior Bowl: South 28, North 10

Ray leads visiting Highlanders to win
Holy Cross wins All 'A' Ninth Region
Saturday's boys games
Saturday's girls games
Groeschen: Preps insider
Ernst: Kentucky preps insider
St. X beats Kentucky, Indiana champs
Prep sports results, schedules

Agassi advances to quarterfinals
Kournikova credited with Russian women's surge

Aiken grad juggles basketball, family
Triplett catches Lefty for Hope Chrysler lead
NBA: After a hot start, Wizards hang on to beat Indiana
Sports digest
Page Two power rankings
Sports on TV, radio