MLB: A record regular-season crowd is expected at the
     Astrodome tonight for P Randy Johnson's Astros debut.  The
     Dome's record for a regular-season game is 51,526, set
     earlier this season.  The team had already sold 43,000
     tickets as of Wednesday (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 8/7)....In K.C.,
     Jason Whitlock backs the Hunt-Western Resources group as the
     Royals' future owners: "I'm on Hunt's side because I don't
     think the board has another viable option" (K.C. STAR, 8/7).
          NFL: Former 49ers coach Bill Walsh denied reports that
     he is a possible successor to Carmen Policy.  Walsh: "I just
     wanted to end any speculation about me and the 49ers. ...
     I'm not going to be with them.  I hope to be around whenever
     I'm welcome.  But no more speculation" (S.F. CHRONICLE,
     8/7).....In St. Paul, Charley Walters writes that it still
     appears former Rockets and T-Wolves exec John Thomas "will
     end up in marketing with the Vikings" (PIONEER PRESS, 8/7).
          NBA: In N.Y., Sam Walker writes that while NBA teams
     went on a $250M "spending spree" over the past two years to
     hire big-name coaches, "on average, the teams don't have
     much to show for it."  Suns CEO Jerry Colangelo: "The
     commitment to coaches was getting outrageous.  I think we're
     going to see some high-priced coaches out of work" (WSJ,
     8/7)....In Dallas, Tim Cowlishaw writes that Mavericks Owner
     Ross Perot Jr. "should make himself available or at the very
     least issue his own statement," regarding the alleged sexual
     misconduct charges brought against team President Terdema
     Ussery.  Cowlishaw: "The Mavericks would like the story to
     die, but these things never do" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 8/7). 
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