Astros at Cubs
Have your radar guns and K rations ready. At week's end, and barring any calamities or changes in Chicago's or Houston's pitching rotation, Cubs rookie Kerry Wood (left) was set to match smoke with Astros ace Randy Johnson in this game. It could turn out to be the duel of the season. On July 31 Houston acquired the 6'10" Johnson for a song. With the Astros, the Big Unit was 3-0 with a pair of shutouts. Meanwhile, Wood, who was third in the majors (behind Johnson and the Phillies' Curt Schilling) in whiffs, struck out 11 Astros in the Cubs' 2-1 win on Sunday. Speaking of rotation and song and Texas and one-hit wonders ( Johnson has tossed three), there's a band from Austin whose tune The Way topped the charts and who would be ideal to sing the national anthem. Its name: Fastball.
?FOX, 1 PM; SUNDAY, WGN, 2 PM
How 'Becca Got Her Groove Back: On July 16 the New York Liberty was 8-9, and center-forward Rebecca Lobo was playing sluggishly. Then Liberty coach Nancy Darsch relinquished the play-calling to point guard Teresa Weatherspoon, and New York responded by winning 10 of 11; Lobo led the Libs in either scoring or rebounding in the last nine, including her 12-rebound performance in last Saturday's 70-54 thrashing of the Western Conference champion Houston Comets. Through last weekend the Cleveland Rockers, like the Comets, had clinched a berth in the best two-of-three playoff semifinals, with the Liberty, the Charlotte Sting and the Phoenix Mercury battling for the remaining two spots. (Game 1 of the Finals will be Thursday at 8 p.m. on ESPN and Lifetime.) Memo to groupies of the WNB-Ays, the band featured on ESPN's promos: Those badass brothas will perform at halftime of Houston's home games.
Packers at Broncos
What more do John Elway (left) and Brett Favre have to do to earn cash and some respect, respectively? Last week Elway, the hero of Denver's 31-24 Super Bowl XXXII triumph over Green Bay—we interrupt this item to report that Broncos offensive tackle Gary Zimmerman is still retired and Packers defensive end Reggie White is still unretired, we think—agreed to restructure his contract Elway's 1998 base salary will be reduced from $4.8 million to $300,000, meaning that Broncos reserve signal-callers Bubby Brister, Jeff Lewis and Brian Griese will each outearn Elway in '98. Favre, meanwhile, is the NFL's reigning MVP and has taken Green Bay to the last two Super Bowls. Plus, to our knowledge, he has never spoken a bad word about "exceptional" people. So why did Cameron Diaz choose Ben Stiller over him?
?ABC, 8 PM
In this one-hour film, featuring the most stunning beach cinematography this side of Spielberg, surfer chicks rule. Four-time world champions Wendy Botha and Frieda Zamba and four other female aces hit the surf off the coast of the Fiji Islands and get board silly. There's plenty of surf music and women in wet suits, but what really grabs you is the within-the-wave filming that captures the essence of the sport. Viewer advisory: Grab a towel, a leash and some zinc oxide if you plan to ride this one out.
?OUTDOOR LIFE NETWORK, 10 PM
William Joppy vs. Roberto Duran
Even before he turned pro—31 years, 116 bouts, four championship belts and one no m�s ago—Roberto Duran (left, against Hector Camacho in '96) and his hands of stone gained legendary status when he knocked out a horse with a single punch. Tonight's 12-round middleweight championship bout from Las Vegas will pit Duran, 47, against speedy counterpuncher William Joppy, 27, in a fight to unify the WBA and the IRS. Joppy holds the belt of the former; Duran, who is scheduled to earn $250,000, is reportedly $300,000 in arrears to the latter, an agency whose auditing of Duran is proof that you can get blood from stone. Say buenas noches, Roberto.
?SHOWTIME, 10 PM
ALL TIMES EASTERN. SCHEDULES ARE SUBJBCT TO CHANGE.