Fire at Admirals
It isn't easy being a Rhein Fire fan. First, the Fire's homepage on the World Wide Web is written in German. Then there's 1996's 3-7 record and last-place finish in the World League of American Football. And has anyone settled the delicate matter of whether it's safe to yell "Fire!" in a crowded sports bar? But this year Rhein just may be, in the words of ESPN's Dan Patrick, "en fuego." In a 28-6 defeat of the London Monarchs, quarterback T.J. Rubley threw three touchdown passes, and 47-year-old kicker Manfred Burgsm�ller converted all four PATs. At week's end Rhein was 2-1, and if it can beat Amsterdam, Fire coach Galen Hall will be a title and a name, and not a demand.
?FX, 4 PM (TAPE-DELAY)
Rangers at Indians
It's going, it's going, it's Gonzalez. Last season's American League MVP, Juan Gonzalez, is scheduled to return to the Texas lineup after missing the first month of the season with a torn ligament in his left thumb. Cleveland, 1996's Central Division champion, can hit—catcher Sandy Alomar (right), a lifetime .274 hitter, sported a surprising .394 average at week's end—but the Indians (6.30 ERA) cannot pitch. The Tribe may supply Gonzalez with a warm welcome back.
?FX, 7 PM
America, we give you jockey-cam. Alex Solis, aboard Captain Bodgit (left), will don a lipstick-sized camera, a tiny microphone and a radio receiver linking him to ABC during the 123rd running of the most exciting two minutes in sport. Captain Bodgit is one of the Derby favorites. He's the colt who overcame not only heavily favored Pulpit in March's Florida Derby but also the indignity of being mislabeled a gelding by the Daily Racing Form. The oddsmakers predicted early that a jockey-cam view along the homestretch would be unobstructed. However, Captain Bodgit neighsayers disagreed, and at week's end the touts were saying that Pulpit would be in Solis's lipstick lens at the wire.
?ABC, 4:30 PM
A's at White Sox
Like Sling Blade's Karl Childers, Chicago White Sox slugger Albert Belle is a laconic Southerner with a fierce—and sometimes violent—sense of justice. We can even imagine Belle staring at one of his homers leaving Comiskey Park and muttering, "I reckon I like them taters...mmm-hmmm." Unlike Karl, however, Belle has been taking his cuts and not drawing blood: At week's end he had only four homers in 95 at bats. Meanwhile, one of his slugging rivals, Oakland's Mark McGwire, already had bashed nine dingers in 78 at bats.
?WGN, 8 PM
German Open Quarterfinals
"If Muster isn't the most hated player on the tour," rival Wayne Ferreira said last year, "he's a close second." Thomas Muster is second (but not close) to Pete Sampras in the world tennis rankings and could narrow the gap by winning this clay-court tournament in Hamburg, where Spain's Roberto Carretero is the defending champion. (The semifinals and finals will be shown Saturday and Sunday on tape-delay.) Muster is the undisputed King of Clay, having won 113 of his last 121 matches on that surface, but his reign may be endangered: He was only 2-3 in '97.
? ESPN, 10 AM (TAPE-DELAY)
U.S. Women's Team vs. England
A Victory Tour without Tito? I'll be there. Unlike the Jacksons' infamous 1984 tour of the same name, a band of sisters will dominate the stage as the Olympic gold medalists face the Brits in San Jose in the fifth game of a six-game tour by Team USA honoring the Americans' triumph in Georgia. Nine Olympic veterans, among them NCAA career goals record holder Mia Hamm (left), have been joined by newcomers like Danielle Fotopolous (1996 NCAA scoring leader at the University of Florida) in a sneak preview of the team that will host the 1999 Women's World Cup. Never can say goodbye.
? ESPN, 12:30 AM (TAPE-DELAY)
All times Eastern. Schedules are subject to change.