Catching a breath and catching up in the middle of a soggy summer:
PRIME-TIME GOLF: ABC is counting its ratings now that David Duval broke through with a victory at last week's British Open, raising Monday night's Battle at Bighorn exposure with four 2001 major champions involved. No need to enlist Retief Goosen.
But how must Annika Sorenstam feel? She fired a 59 this year and won four consecutive tournaments, but now she's teamed up with that slouch Tiger Woods who hasn't won anything since May.
It says here that Duval and Karrie Webb will wax the Woods-Sorenstam tandem in the alternate-shot showdown. Duval and Webb will sweep the season's remaining majors as well.
RED ALERT: The closest thing to a meltdown this area has ever experienced will not involve the Savannah River Site but instead Augusta National Golf Club. The outcry come April when Masters participants see the extensive course changes will be overwhelming. It might be enough to make Jack Nicklaus retire from future Masters.
TRIPLE CROWN: Feel-good stories don't get any better than Lance Armstrong, who'll roll into Paris today to claim his third consecutive Tour de France victory. Critics will surely raise the specter of another doping scandal. But it's got to be the chemotherapy. Cancer survivors everywhere salute the bravest American in Paris.
GOOD KARMA: When Braves ace Greg Maddux unselfishly promoted teammate John Burkett to the All-Star team in his stead, the only reward Maddux received was a collective nod to his noble gesture. But what goes around comes around. Maddux hasn't lost a game or yielded a base on balls since, extending his career-high streaks to 10 wins and 58 1/3 innings without a walk. Oh yeah, he still leads the National League with a 2.49 ERA. Experts can argue the merits of Curt Schilling and Randy Johnson all they want, but it smells like another Cy Young in Atlanta.
OLYMPIC DREAM: Atlanta is among four cities being considered to host the 2006 Gay Games.
Playing host to the Gay Games would be a major step in securing Atlanta's reputation for cultural diversity. As tolerance for alternative lifestyles builds, we might eventually see gay and lesbian athletes hiding out in mainstream sports leagues have the courage to live their lives as they choose without fear of persecution from their peers. That's a dream worthy of any Olympic movement.
BOOM OR BUST: Call it a gut feeling, but five years from now people will be hailing Carolina Panthers rookie quarterback Chris Weinke as a draft steal and lamenting Atlanta Falcons rookie Michael Vick as an underachiever. Call me crazy, but Vick is currently the fourth-best quarterback at the Falcons camp and has a longer way to go than anyone realizes. Let's hope I'm wrong.
PAST PRIME: Now that Deion Sanders is retired from football, baseball can't be too far behind. Too bad the Neon one didn't quit playing in time to be considered a candidate during the agonizing search for a new Georgia baseball coach.
LUG NUTS: It's been three weeks since anyone accused NASCAR of race fixing and three days since any of its legion of fans called me an idiot. They must be slipping.
MJ UPDATE: While remaining on the record that Michael Jordan should remain retired and preserve his perfect departure, how cool would it be to see him manhandle the Hawks in Atlanta's home opener Nov. 1? If Cal Ripken could rip two homers in his Georgia curtain call, MJ could score at least his age on his own farewell tour.
Reach Scott Michaux at (706) 823-3219.