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Wednesday, June 28

   by Larry Ness - 06/28/2006

What's going on here? The 2006 NBA draft is upon us and no one seems to know who the No. 1 pick is. Typically, everyone would have known who was going No. 1 a month ago. This year, there's no consensus favorite for the top choice and speculation goes downhill from there!

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The typical NBA draft has a drop-off after the first few picks, after which its hard to separate the prospects. This year, the drop-off comes before the first pick. This year's draft is the first under the NBA's 19-year-old minimum-age rule. If not for that, seven-foot Greg Oden (who is instead at Ohio State) would have been the No. 1 pick.

Possible No. 1s this year are Andrea Bargnani from Italy (who some say is the next Dirk Nowitzki), 6-10 Texas sophomore LaMarcus Aldridge and 6-7 U Conn sophomore Rudy Gay. What about Adam Morrison of Gonzaga and JJ Redick of Duke, the two players who dominated the Player-of-the-Year awards in college basketball this past season? Morrison is expected to go to Portland with the fourth pick, while Redick is expected to go anywhere from eighth to 15th.

Anyway, tonight's global live television event (ESPN at 7:00 ET) will be watched by millions. It's come a long way from what began as a marathon coast-to-coast conference call of general mangers and grew into a fraternal meeting in a smoky New York City hotel ballroom. More recently, the league adopted a 10-round draft in 1974, which stayed in place until 1985 when it was scaled back to seven rounds. The draft was cut to three rounds in 1988 and to its current two round format in 1989.

MLB notes

The Red Sox made it 10 straight wins by beating the Mets last night, 9-4. Boston also owns MLB's best IL mark at 12-1. The Twins' 9-2 win over the Dodgers gives them MLB's second-longest active winning streak at six straight (have also won 16 of 18!), while the Tigers' 4-0 win gives them five straight victories (have won 15 of 17).

The Twins and Tigers both own 12-2 IL marks, with the White Sox and Mariners right behind them at 11-2. The Rockies beat the Angels last night 12-4, giving them an 8-3 IL record. Amazingly, with the Mets' loss to the Red Sox, the Rockies are now the lone NL team to have a winning IL mark.

Chicago's 4-2 win over Pittsburgh last night, ran the Pirates' losing streak to 12 straight games. It's not only the longest active losing streak in MLB but it also matches that franchise's longest losing streak since 1900 (Pirates lost 12 straight in 1939). The Pirates have nine more games before the All Star break, against the White Sox, Tigers and Mets. In case you haven't been following the standings lately, those teams own the three-best records in MLB!

Pittsburgh's loss dropped its IL record to 1-9, matched only by the Arizona Diamondbacks. The D'backs lost 11-7 last night to the Mariners, the team's 18th loss in their last 21 games. It's hard to remember that Arizona was 34-22 on June 4. The Cards lost again last night too, giving them their longest losing streak since July of 1988, at eight straight. During the Cards' losing streak (second to only that of the Pirates), they've been outscored 68-28.

There are 15 games scheduled for Wednesday, with four day games. The night's marquee matchup is undoubtedly Pedro's return to Fenway. The Red Sox host the Mets (7:05 ET on ESPN2), as Pedro squares off against Josh Beckett.

Pedro is 7-3 this year in 15 starts, posting a 3.01 ERA. The Mets' bullpen has blown multiple games for him and New York is just 9-6 in his starts, despite's Pedro allowing only 67 hits in 98 2/3-innings of work with a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 110-26!

Josh Beckett, in his first year with Boston, is 9-3 on the season, posting a 4.84 ERA in 15 starts (team is 10-5). He's made six starts in Fenway this year, going 4-0 with a 2.58 ERA, as the Red Sox have won five of the six games.

Ness Notes is available Monday through Friday by 1:00 ET.

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