A hearty stew of offbeat sports and pop culture.

February 2009 Archives

Fresh off a season where he made New England Patriots fans forget about Tom Brady -- well, maybe a little bit -- Matt Cassel appears to be headed to the Kansas City Chiefs.

Cassel expected to be dealt to Chiefs     (NFL.com)
obama-wizards-cheerleader.jpgGood morning, sports and pop culture fans.

We'd like to take a moment out to thank our readers for making February our best month ever. We really appreciate your readership and enjoy sifting through your comments. Know that as long as pictures like this one surface, we'll be here to post them.
Thumbnail image for arod-selena-roberts.jpgAlex Rodriguez' decision to hitch a ride with Yuri Sucrat, the cousin A-Rod said injected him with steroids, after the Yankees' spring training game Wednesday raised a few eyebrows. After all, it certainly didn't seem like the best thing to do when you're trying to subdue a media circus in which you're starring.

And it looks like the Yankees agree.

The New York Post is reporting the team has told Rodriguez to keep his cousin away.
Thumbnail image for bradygisele.jpgGentlemen, it appears that supermodel Gisele Bundchen may have married that silly football-playing Tom Brady. I know it's terrible, horrible, no good very bad news -- if it's true.

US Magazine is claiming to have an exclusive, and is boldly pronouncing the couple man and wife with a headline that has an exclamation point. Elaine Benes would be proud. Jake Jarmel ... not so much.
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A 12-year-old girl recently walked into a Swiss hospital with intensely painful sores on her palms.

Doctors figured out was wrong, and put a name to it -- "PlayStation palmar hidradenitis." She'd been playing too much Playstation 3.

I'm embarrassed to admit, I feel her pain -- although my symptoms aren't as severe, and I haven't actually been diagnosed.

It all has something to do with my "puck window." You see, everyone has a puck window. Unfortunately, mine has been negatively affecting my ability to work for the past couple of weeks.

The puck window -- for the uninitiated -- is a term a few friends I grew up with coined to describe the time you're available to play each other online in the EA Sports hockey video game "NHL 09" for the Playstation 3 console.

There's no doubt that the bone-crushing hits I routinely administer with Blackhawks defenseman Brian Campbell during my puck window have resulted in a blister on my right thumb. And the wicked dekes I break out with winger Kris Versteeg have left me with a chronic dull pain in my left palm.

GAME, BLOUSES!

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A little while back, we introduced you to Florida Panthers announcer Randy Moller, whose remarkably hilarious pop culture references instantly skyrocketed him to the top of our commentator leaderboard.

ESPN analyst Doug Gottlieb -- obviously a devout reader of this here site -- got in on the relevant-humor fun last night at the end of Texas A & M's thrilling 57-55 win over Nebraska. Those familiar with the "Dave Chappelle Show" will recognized Gottlieb's "Game, blouses!" outburst from the Prince-basketball sketch.

Fast forward to the 7:42 mark for the thrilling conclusion and Gottlieb's gem.

george-clooney-david-beckham.jpgWithout a doubt, my favorite part of celebrity magazines like US Weekly and People are the photo spreads of famous people doing the mundane things that us commoners also do.

You know, stuff like "Reese Witherspoon buys groceries!" or "Mary-Kate Olsen drinks lattes!" Seriously, it's oddly compelling.

So, it's a bit interesting to read that soccer superstar David Beckham is subleasing a place from cinema buff George Clooney. I mean, Becks has got to keep an eye on those rent payments. They really add up.
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The first grumbles of a possible home for Rex Grossman are coming from Detroit and Houston. The Texans are looking to replace soon-to-be-traded backup Sage Rosenfels while Detroit is looking to do so many things.

Free agency begins at 11:01 p.m., at which time Grossman's tenure here is ovah, and he joins a motley crew of ho-hum QB free agents, including Dan Orlovsky, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Patrick Ramsey.

Why any team would take a pass on Jeff Garcia for the likes of Sex Cannon, however, is beyond me.

It's interesting to note how the Houston Chronicle describes Grossman to its readers who haven't endured the roller coaster Rexlationship this city has mired in for the past six years.

John McClain reports:

"Grossman, 28, was a No. 1 pick with the Bears who helped them reach the Super Bowl after the 2006 season but lost his starting job. He had one start last season when he had two touchdowns and two interceptions."

My God, there is so much more to that story.
Would you rather live in a world where:

A. You know a thing or two about Dwight Howard's bathroom habits

or

B. You know nothing at all about Dwight Howard's bathroom habits

If your answer is B, don't watch the following video from Mouthpiece:

osu-makers-mark.jpgGrowing up in Michigan, I can tell you that the typical discourse between a Wolverines supporter and an Ohio State Buckeye fan is usually some of the nastiest stuff you've ever heard.

Simply put, the maize and blue guys hate the scarlet gray guys and vice versa. And judging by the insults levied back and forth, both fan bases come from mothers of questionable repute.

So, what can be done to raise the dialog between these two warring factions?

Why, introduce a giant ad for whiskey making fun of the other.
alex-rodriguez-yuri-sucart.jpgAs you know -- unless you were living in a cave under the ocean -- Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez has had his name in the paper quite a bit lately for things he'd done off the playing field.

Today, the media frenzy took a momentary backseat to on-field action as A-Rod suited up for the Yankees' spring training opener.

Rodriguez did his best to win the divided crowd over with a home run in his second at-bat, but certainly made an interesting transportation following the game.
Here's some irony: Kellogg dumps Michael Phelps as a pitchman for their products in order to keep up their "reputation," but immediately plummets in an index which tracks company reputations.

"Out of the 5,600 company reputations Vanno monitors, Kellogg ranked ninth before it booted Phelps. Now it's ranked 83. Not even an industry-wide peanut scare inflicted as much damage on the food company's reputation.
Dumping Phelps Over Bong Rip Damages Kellogg's Brand Reputation   (Silicon Alley Insider)
Thumbnail image for stafford.jpgWe all say things we don't mean from time to time.

"Sure, I'd love to go to your son's piano recital," or "No, no, you take the last slice of pizza, I've had enough already."

So maybe and (hopefully) star quarterback Matthew Stafford's comments fall into that category. I mean, how else would you explain someone wanting to go to the Detroit Lions?

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(Photo via Thebiglead.com)

Bulls great Michael Jordan has taken a 30-year mortgage on a relatively modest home in suburban Miami with his lady friend, Cuban-born model Yvette Prieto.

The Post's Jose Lambiet reports:
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If we can handle this now-annual spectacle, we can certainly handle Rascal Flatts. (AP Photo)

Not all Wrigleyville neighbors oppose the booking of a Rascal Flatts show at Wrigley Field July 18. As a resident of the neighborhood who lives in a high-traffic area within earshot of the stadium's hot dog vendors, I welcome any and all events that will help buoy the people and businesses who depend on nights like the one in question during these tough economic times.

An extra concert means my neighbors directly to the south will be able to fill their parking lot another day out of the month at payday of at least $50/car. It means my upstairs neighbor, a bartender at one of the local establishments, will have another extra-lucrative payday that eclipses the average game-less Saturday night. We can't afford to take the a cash cow off the pasture during a recession. To do so would only make sense to someone who has no idea what it means to be living paycheck to paycheck right now.

Southport Neighbors Association president Jill Peters told Sun-Times reporter Fran Spielman, "Based on their agreement in the past to limit concert events to two nights per year, their request has been met. A third -- especially on a Saturday night -- would be too much for the community to endure on top of a festival. It's piling on too much for a community already stressed during baseball season."

The community isn't stressed those 81 nights a year the Cubs play home games. Stressed how? Cars? We deal with them. Foot traffic? Only helps local businesses. Risk of drunken revelry? There's not a weekend all year that's not a concern. We deal with it.
ernie-banks-marriage.jpgSo ladies, if you're not doing anything for the foreseeable future and you enjoy frequenting this here blog, Kevin and I have a proposition for you.

Let Ernie Banks officiate our marriage at Wrigley Field.

Seriously, he wants to do just that.

Our own Michael Sneed had this scoop in her Sunday column:

"Legendary Cubbie Ernie Banks was being very foxy loxy while huddling at Harry Caray's eatery last week with former White Sox slugger Ron Kittle, who has a license to marry people. The kicker: Banks wanted to know how to get certified -- so he could perform wedding ceremonies at Wrigley Field!"

Between all of the Oscar coverage and Bartolo Colon photos, we missed it until now. But, better late than never.
adriana_lima_wedding.jpgCongratulations are in order for Marko Jaric. The Memphis Grizzlies guard, who averages a whopping 9.7 minutes and 1.9 points per game, married Victoria Secret supermodel and abstinence enthusiast Adriana Lima in a hush-hush Valentine's Day wedding.
brett-favre-espn.jpgIn a move that should surprise absolutely no one familiar with sports media, the "Brett Favre to ESPN" idea is gaining momentum.

USA Today's Michael Hiestand discussed the possibility of the former Packers great replacing departed dancing king Emmitt Smith in his column yesterday.

"Signing the supposedly retired Brett Favre would bring in a star. Norby Williamson, ESPN executive vice president, says ESPN hopes to meet with Favre next month: "He's a funny, dynamic guy and would add to anybody's coverage."
devin-harris-shot.jpgThe New Jersey Nets' Devin Harris hit one of the most ridiculous game-winning shots in a long time last night against the Philadelphia 76ers. Trailing by one with 1.8 seconds remaining, Harris collided with Andre Igoudala, lost the ball, regained the ball and managed to sink a desperation shot from half court.

Insane video evidence after the jump.
hoffman-thank-you.jpgSay what you want about the rapid demise of newspapers in this country, but they're still the best medium for an aging relief pitcher to express his gratitude to his loyal fans. So, yeah ... we've got that going for us.

Former San Diego Padre great Trevor Hoffman took out a full-page ad in Sunday's San Diego Union-Tribune to thank the city for supporting him during the last 16 years.

When Sean Penn walked away with the best actor award at the Oscars for his stint as Harvey Milk, there was at least one big name ready to tag in on the Academy of Motion Picture Sciences - the Nature Boy, Ric Flair.

Flair, the Greatest Wrestler of All Time, did this fascinating interview with CBS, giving his thoughts on the punishment professional wrestlers take in pursuit of entertainment and talking about his admiration for Rourke's performance as a wrestler at the end of his line in "The Wrestler."

bartolo-colon.jpgIf you're like me, then school-picture day was the source of much anxiety. From a very early age my peers and I were forced to think that if you didn't have the laser background, you might as well not even ask to sit at the cool kid's table. Seriously, it was kind of a lot of pressure for an elementary student.

We'd pick out our favorite Tommy Hilfiger or Stussy shirt to wear, spike our hair to the appropriate level and think we had it all under control. Then, something unexpected would happen. A particularly sloppy, muddy game of football at recess would break out or Walking Taco residue would ruin any chance of a decent picture.

Mom would be mad, and there would be the necessary re-takes.

So, we kind of know what Bartolo Colon must be going through.
montreal-canadiens.jpgAn extremely interesting story is developing north of the border in Montreal, where the NHL is sending security personnel to meet with police officials in the wake of news there may be a connection between some Candiens players and an organized crime outfit.

Authorities are trying to discern if there is a link between Pasquale Mangiola -- who faces weapons and drug charges -- and players Andrei Kostitsyn, Sergei Kostitsyn and Roman Hamrlik.
Cubs single-game tickets went on sale this morning, prompting me to embark on another installment of a yearly tradition -- virtual waiting. I'll admit that I lucked out this year, but my good fortune made me wonder: Has the sour economy made some of the most elusive Cubs tickets easier to snag?

The tradition begins with a morning phone to my brother where we outline the games we want, the games we wish we could attend and exactly how many games we can actually afford. We do all of this, mind you, after lamenting the fact that we'll probably spend the duration of our lives on the season ticket waiting list.

Buying single-game tickets isn't necessarily about the tickets themselves or the actual games. I'm quite confident that, at the right price, I could find a way into Wrigley for any game I want to attend.

Rather, this odd February tradition is about the need to reward to reward oneself for enduring yet another painful Chicago winter.
travis-henry-child-support.jpgA Georgia judge has ruled against a temporary cut in the amount of child support former NFL bad boy Travis Henry pays to a woman who birthed one of his nine kids.

Henry's nine children all have different mothers. His attorney had argued he couldn't afford the payments because he was no longer earning a paycheck and is in danger of going to prison on federal drug charges.

BY CRAIG NEWMAN


For nearly two weeks, news of a severe beating suffered by singer Rihanna, allegedly at the hands of boyfriend, R&B singer Chris Brown, and rumors of the incident's severity have percolated in the headlines.


On Thursday night, a photo posted by gossip Web site TMZ.com put a face and photographic proof to the brutality suffered. The closeup image portrays a woman whose face is puffy with deep bruising, black eyes and apparent blood at the corner of her mouth.


rihanna-beating.jpg(TMZ.com)
Carlos Lee was two days late reporting to spring training for the Houston Astros in Kissimmee, Fla. Today, the Cub killer and former White Sox slugger faced the press for the first time with a pair of teammates on hand to show their Yankee-esque support.

From the Houston Chronicle:

"Just days after several New York Yankees attended Alex Rodriguez's press conference to support the disgraced steroids user, Carlos Lee, Lance Berkman and Roy Oswalt parodied the Yankees as Lee held a brief press conference after his first workout of the spring Thursday.

"After the Panamanian missed the club's first full-squad workout Tuesday at Osceola County Stadium because he thought the reporting date was Thursday, Berkman chastised the slugger and Oswalt ridiculed Lee's excuse. Once Lee was in camp, though, they all had fun with the misunderstanding.

"Oswalt even suggested the gesture of mocking the infamous A-Rod press conference that was held last Tuesday afternoon in Tampa. Once practice was over, Berkman hugged Lee and sat at his side."

Here's the video, which includes a look at Lee's amazingly crooked pinky finger:


One of the great parts about the ever-so-addictive "Lost" is that in the wake of every episode are a multitude of unanswered questions.

Last night we saw Ben tell Jack he needed to go visit and "old friend" to "tie up a loose end" and then returned looking like he'd just gone 12 rounds with Mike Tyson.

So, was he going to go kill Penny? Kill someone else? Let's have those theories.
Wrestling legend Verne Gagne is a suspect in the death of his Minnesota nursing home roommate.

From Myfoxtwincities.com:

"Police believe that Verne Gagne may have contributed to the January death of Helmut R. Gutmann, who lived with him in the Bloomington living facility, Friendship Village. Gagne and 97-year-old Gutmann, who both suffer from Alzheimer's-related dementia, allegedly got into a fight on Jan. 26 that led to Gutmann's death.

"Gutmann suffered a broken leg and a head injury in the fight. He was hospitalized, then released, but then was re-hospitalized due to complications. Four days ago, Gutmann died."


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BY KARA SPAK

Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher spent a romantic Valentine's Day in Las Vegas with Sarah Larson, the ex-girlfriend of Oscar winner George Clooney, a Las Vegas newspaper is reporting.

"They were holding hands, definitely on a Valentine's Day date," a "spy" told Norm Clarke of the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

The pair snuggled up at the Bellagio's club The Bank, which bills itself as "the most desirable cosmopolitan nightclub in Las Vegas."
Tiger Woods and his wife, Elin, have released the first public photos of their newborn son Charlie Axel Woods and their two-year-old daughter, Samantha:

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jeff-burton-general hospital.jpgHere's something you're never ready to hear: Speed and turning-left enthusiast Jeff Burton will take his fast-paced lifestyle to the set of "General Hospital."

The NASCAR racer will be playing himself and "talk racing" in an upcoming episode of the soap opera. Burton's previous television experience includes a one-episode cameo on "One Tree Hill."

Maybe I'm completely missing something here, but these two programs aren't that come to mind when I think NASCAR.

In fact, I'm going to go out on a limb and say that neither Chad Michael Murray or Anthony Geary is in a fantasy NASCAR league.

So which show should Burton be going on?

Nothing says NASCAR like 'General Hospital'    (The Sporting News)
zach-randolph-happy-valentines-day-card.jpgLos Angeles Clippers forward Zach Randolph seems to be a little confused about what constitutes a "push" and what constitutes a "punch."

The big lefty, who was a Michigan State Spartan for a hot minute, was involved in an altercation with the Suns' Louis Amundson last night in Phoenix's 140-100 sacking of L.A.

The reason for Randolph's ire?

He claims the dude tried to kiss him.

"Randolph said he was merely trying to push Amundson away

"He hopped up and got in my face and almost kissed me in my mouth," Randolph said. "I just pushed him out of my face.

"If I would have hit him, he wouldn't have got up off the ground," said Randolph, who is almost certain to be suspended.
patrik-elias-stanley-cup.jpgDespite Craig Newman's revelations that Facebook is multimedia's new Evil Empire, I was zipping around the site early today and stumbled upon the fan page for NHL superstar Patrik Elias.

The veteran New Jersey Devils left winger has been a member of two Stanley Cup-winning teams in his career, and judging from his Facebook picture, knows what to do with the trophy.

There's also a full gallery of Elias and the trophy, replete with other shots of him and Lord Stanley's Cup enjoying their time together.
ashton_kutcher_football.jpgNoted Bears fan Ashton Kutcher, a name often mentioned with the terms 'athlete' and 'hard-nosed,' is slated to star in a football-themed comedy for Paramount Pictures.

The movie is tentatively titled "Traded," and sounds a bit like "Freaky Friday" meets "The Longshots" -- minus any Activia enthusiasts, train wrecks or former N.W.A. members.
mike-vick-49ers.jpgIt would seem that every dog lover in the Bay Area can breathe a deep sigh of relief. Just one day after San Francisco 49ers coach Mike Singletary said the squad wasn't ruling out bringing Michael Vick aboard, a team spokesman said the Niners have no interest in the embattled quarterback.

Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez can't put one foot in front of the other these days without either finding a new form of steroids in his pocket or dropping a mea culpa for his "stupid" use of banned substances to juice up his game in while in Texas.

Naturally, the New York tabs are having a field day and by and large, baseball fandom is whipping itself into a tizzy of righteous indignation that MLB's golden boy could be a dirty, lying juicing cheater. Evil in pinstripes - though some would argue putting on the pinstripes makes a man evil, but I digress.

But I'm not here to stone A-Rod for his moronic transgressions in the hot Texas sun in the first half of this decade - I'm here to thank him for saving 175 million people from themsleves.

Chicago is generally regarded as the home of improvised comedy, but Los Angeles -- with institutions like the Groundlings and iO West -- is just as much of a hotbed for this artform.

Just ask Stephon Marbury.

While Starbury remains an inactive New York Knick, he's been spending a fair amount of time in LA. His latest off-court venture -- improv -- came about as a fluke.

Enterprising YouTube enthusiast Brendan McNamara was driving in LA recently when he saw Marbury sitting at a bus stop a half a mile from his house. The aspiring filmmaker jumped into action.

McNamara tells Slam Online:

so i grabbed my camera and hustled back to where i saw him - turns out he was waiting on his car to be fixed at a shop right behind him - and asked him if he'd shoot some improv stuff with me at the bus stop.

i was a little surprised he said yes but he did and we rolled and goofed and i'm chopping 'em up into little bite-sized pieces to go up every day...


Here's the result:




One of the fundamentals of improvisation is the ability to quickly think on one's feet. Marbury has this down -- as evidenced by his strategic plug for his Starbury apparel line.
Esmailyn-Gonzalez.jpgPart of major league baseball's seedier underbelly involves a bit of deception that doesn't revolve around banned substances or illegal injections.

The problem of player's lying about their age is an ever-increasing issue for teams looking to assess talent and dole out the appropriate signing bonuses.

Today we learn that a top Washington Nationals prospect known as a 19-year-old Esmailyn Gonzalez is really 23-year-old Carlos Alvarez Daniel Lugo.
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San Francisco 49ers head coach Mike Singletary said he has not ruled out the possibility of snagging imprisoned and strongly disliked-by-many Michael Vick when the former Falcons quarterback gets out of prison July 20.

Quoth the Santa Rosa, Calif. Press-Democrat:

"I'm not going to say I'm open or closed," Singletary said after the 49ers' state-of-the-franchise event for season-ticket holders. "I'd say it has to be something (general manager) Scot (McCloughan) and I talk about and feel good about one way or the other. But we have not talked about it at this point in great detail. We're trying to focus on what we have."

Meanwhile, Singletary's former team, the Chicago Bears, have remained mum on whether they'd be interested in landing Vick, whose deplorable dog fighting/torture conviction rightly spurred the scorn of animal lovers everywhere.

Sun-Times columnist Carol Slezak last month broached the Vick-to-Bears topic:

We're always excited here at Sports Pros(e) when our love of theatre and love of sport collide. Such is the case with playwright Itamar Moses' timely tale "Back, Back, Back," which is set to debut at Dallas Theater Center next month.
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The play is a thinly veiled look at the early careers of Jose Canseco, Mark McGwire and the infamously chinless Walt Weiss -- or at least three characters whose biographies resemble those of Canseco, McGwire and Weiss during their back-to-back-to-back rookie of the year runs with the Oakland A's.

Kevin Sherrington of the Dallas Morning News wrote about the play in his column yesterday, and talks to a few of the actors about their roles. He writes:

"Moses only takes license with dialogue and the notion that baseball players might prove the least bit introspective.

Anyone who's ever walked around a clubhouse or locker room knows the conversation rarely runs more than ankle deep.

But then if we held the arts to the letter, Damn Yankees would have been a lot of spittin' and scratchin'.

If Canseco and McGwire and Weiss had actually given voice to any doubts or fears or regrets, maybe this is what they would have sounded like."

We've all had frustrating airport experiences. Be it an inconvenient flight delay or a surly TSA agent, there are plenty of factors that can add up to elevated blood pressure and a sense of anger. But most of us choose to deal with these feelings in a reasonable way.

The same can not be said for this Chinese woman who missed her flight at Hong Kong's international airport. She opted to react this way:

Thumbnail image for phelpsbong.jpgIt would seem that we are one step closer to putting this whole Michael Phelps business behind us. The South Carolina sheriff who had seemed so gung-ho about prosecuting Phelps for his now infamous marijuana photo announced today that he doesn't have enough evidence to charge the swimming icon.

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It's time again for the annual seasonal right that tells us all winter's icy grip is losing its strength: spring training. Pitchers and catchers have reported to their various sunny corners of Florida and Arizona and position players are trickling in every day, all with the purpose of ramping up a a year-long training regimen that makes them the world-best ballplayers they are.

Just the way it should be and has always been.

Oh, except for when they were all fat slobs who floated in on a river of booze and a cloud of cigarette smoke to sweat off their winter layers of blubber and chase skirt til they were close to in-shape enough to last a season.

And I think I know the secret to those glory days - a diet rich in fat, grease, salt, pork and donuts -- and this is the recipe guide.

Phoenix Suns guard Jason Richardson is facing reckless driving and endangerment charges after Scottsdale police clocked him going 90 mph in a 35 mph zone. His three-year-old son was also in the car and not restrained by a car seat.

"According to Scottsdale police, an officer clocked Jason Richardson doing 67 mph in a 40-mph zone in the area of 65th Street and Camelback Road shortly before 8 p.m. Sunday.  Sgt. Mark Clark said the officer followed Richardson onto 64th Street, where Richardson's car hit speeds up to 90 mph. The speed limit there is 35 mph.
Suns player clocked at 90 mph with toddler in the car, no car seat     (AZ Family)
lance-armstrong-bike-stolen.jpg

As a general rule, if you're going to steal something, secrecy is the name of the game. You're going to want to avoid headlines of the crime, a detailed description of the item you'll be trying to re-sell and limit the public's awareness of the whole situation.

These rules, of course, go out the window when you steal cycling legend Lance Armstrong's bike.
Say what you want about the actual game, Derrick Rose's performance in the skills competition, that stupid trophy Kevin Durant won in H-O-R-S-E or Kryptonate's slam dunks. The highlight of the NBA's All-Star weekend was Shaquille O'Neal's dance moves.

The future Hall of Famer and star of the unforgettable 1996 movie "Kazaam" treated the Phoenix crowd and millions of defensive-indifferent fans at home with this kinetic masterpiece.

arod-selena-roberts.jpgIt seems that Alex Rodriguez has done some soul-searching and decided to apologize to Sports Illustrated writer Selena Roberts.

A-Rod had blasted Roberts -- the woman who co-wrote the story breaking the news of Rodriguez' positive test -- for her lack of professionalism.
daunte-culpepper-lions.jpgTim Taylor's favorite NFL team -- the Detroit Lions -- would appear to have a laundry list of improvements to make this offseason. After all, the set a league record for futility last season with their perfectly imperfect campaign.

And while every analyst on ESPN has been talking about the Lions taking Georgia quarterback Matthew Stafford with the first pick in the upcoming NFL draft, recently departed wide receiver Mike Furrey says the teams is going to go with Daunte Culpepper.
terrible-towel.jpgPittsburgh Steelers kicker Jeff Reed apparently didn't deal well when confronted with a poorly stocked men's room at a convenience store early Saturday morning.

The kicking-for-accuracy enthusiast was cited for disorderly conduct and criminal mischief after throwing a temper tantrum because the towel dispenser was empty.

One of our friends on Twitter was good enough to point this promotional video out from the band OK Go, which you'll likely know from either the Nike/iPod commercial or the uber-viewed treadmill video.

Yes, it's just some sort of shill for Banana Republic, but at least they give a shoutout to the Empty Bottle, which is one of the great music-friendly watering holes in our city.

One thing, though, you might say you still "feel like" a Chicago band OK Go, but once you move to Los Angeles, you turn in your Chi-town cred. Sorry fellas, it's the law.

allen-iverson-cut-his-hair.jpgIn this ever-changing world -- and especially in these trouble economic times -- it's very important for the American public to have some sense of continuity in their lives. You know, that reassuring anchor of reality for them to look to no matter how stormy the seas.

Well, Allen Iverson's cornrows are no longer that stabilizing force.

The diminutive NBA star cut his trademark braids -- ones he'd sported for 12 years -- and showed his new closely cropped 'do off at the Eastern Conference's All-Star practice.
obama-nba-message.JPGIf you need (another?) reason to watch Sunday night's NBA All-Star game, President Barack Obama taped a message that will air during halftime of the annual defense-optional dunkfest.

"The president is encouraging people to visit a Web site _ _ to find jobs that need done near their homes. He says everything from putting together care packages for troops and fixing up basketball courts can help.
The Web site, USA Service, provides opportunities for volunteering and other community service.

The University of Miami went ahead with their new stadium dedication Friday night, renaming their ballyard "Alex Rodriguez Park."

The recently embattled slugger donated $4 million to the renovation efforts and was on hand for the ceremony.

hank-aaron.jpgWith all of the speculation surrounding Barry Bonds, it'd be understandable if Hank Aaron wanted his title of all-time home run leader restored. After all, the 715 career homers he blasted were powered only by adrenaline and natural power.

But Aaron tells the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he doesn't want his old record back.
Thumbnail image for reinsdorf.jpgOur former colleague Jay Mariotti has some particularly harsh words for Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf today, calling him an idiot in so many words.

Now, it's no secret that Mariotti has taken some shots at Reinsdorf before. But he takes his shots a step further today, saying the Bulls may be the dumbest operation in sports.

" No? Since June of 1998, when Jordan pushed off Bryon Russell and flicked his shooting wrist with such finality that he struck a pose for eternity, the Bulls have won exactly one postseason series. They've lost 541 of 863 games, blown more high draft picks than I can count and struck out on the free-agent market, not surprising when early recruiting attempts involved sending the Luvabulls dance squad and mascot Benny the Bull -- the one who's always getting busted by the police -- to greet Tim Duncan at the airport. Four of their head coaches, including current novice Vinny Del Negro, have been undeniable flops, and the only good one, Scott Skiles, was fired when the players fessed up to quitting on him."
Thumbnail image for beckham10M.JPGRemember all the fanfare when soccer star and body-ink enthusiast David Beckham brought his game to the United States? He showed up with a million-dollar smile on his face and an air of optimism for resurrecting the game in this country.

Odds are his return to the LA Galaxy won't be as joyous of an occasion.
Florida Panthers radio play-by-play man Randy Moller is our new favorite announcer.

Thanks to the magic of the internet, we've stumbled on an amazing mix tape of his work -- one that reveals an impressive knowledge of hilarious pop culture catchphrases. This actually might be the best thing I've ever found on YouTube.

Both Kevin and I really enjoy the "Rounders" reference, but they're all gold.



We look forward to working all of these exclamations into casual conversations this week.
dwight-howard-superman-dunk.jpgThe NBA's best and brightest will gather in Phoenix tomorrow for the annual slam dunk contest. Over the years, this jamboree has produced some jaw-dropping dunks, some laughable gimmicks and some good water-cooler debate -- such as the question of which slam is the best ever?

After the jump, we present some of the finest throwdowns for your consideration.
DeepSea3D.gifLooking for something to do this weekend? Does your Valentine have an unusual fascination with the ocean? If so, you may want to check out the latest offering at Navy Pier's IMAX theater. I was fortunate enough to catch an early screening and managed to jot down these words about it.

There are some great moments during the unbelievably lifelike "Under the Sea 3D," the newest IMAX offering, which is essentially "Finding Nemo" coming to life. Menacing water snakes, sharks and other sea creatures pop out at the audience in such a manner that you'd think you just payed for expensive scuba-diving lessons.

This well-shot documentary captures the majesty of the oft-unseen world that lies beneath the ocean's surface, but it has one inherent flaw: What you see is what you get.

Under the Sea" relies too heavily on the element of visual simulation. It is, at its essence, a 40-minute documentary souped up to dazzle the eyes. When the initial thrill wears off, there's not a lot of mystery left.

Directed by Howard Hall, the film takes viewers to some of the most exotic and isolated undersea locations and face-to-face with some of the most bizarre ocean inhabitants. Narrated by actor Jim Carrey, it submerges us below the surface, where many scientific oddities and interspecies relationships loom into view.

Update: Sun-Times confirms Pasxon to resign

The New York Post is reporting that "two people in the know" are saying that Bulls General Manager John Paxson will resign next week after Thursday's trade deadline expires.

Peter Vecsey reports:

"One of the above sources said he wouldn't be surprised if Doug Collins were approached again at the season regarding the coaching job (currently held by Vinny Del Negro) and as GM, or both. Collins and managing partner Jerry Reinsdorf couldn't agree on money last May."

SOURCES: PAX OUT IN BULLS SHAKEUP [New York Post]
griffey-mariners.jpgKen Griffey Jr., who in his younger days delighted u swith his backwards hats, smooth swing and flashy earrings, may soon be returning to the rainy Pacific Northwest climate that nurtured him.

Nine years after leaving Seattle for Cincinnati, rumors have Griffey close to a deal that would bring him back to the Emerald City.
The news of Midway Games, Inc. filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection got us debating just which title is the best video or arcade game the company produced.

"Mortal Komabt" is perhaps the most well-known offering. The goal there is to physically vanquish your opponent using a series of kicks, punches and devastating trick moves. The game predictably acheived great popularity because, let's face it, ripping someone's spine out is about the coolest thing in the world to most 13-year-old boys.



But, after perusing a list of games released by Midway, "Mortal Kombat" has some serious competition.

Chicago-based video game maker Midway Games filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection today, a victim of our crumbling economy and, worse, a lack of anything new worth playing.

Midway made its bones -- more often than not ripped out of its characters -- with the ultra-violent martial arts/magic.sci-fi game Mortal Kombat, a mainstay in any decent college student's video game collection since the early '90s.

And when I say ultraviolent, I mean that in the best possible gaming way. Almost entirely because of MK's elaborate kill sequences at the end of fights, we saw the creation of the Entertainment Software Rating Board to grade out video game violence and keep the kiddies safe from gore.

Midway also markets a series of sports-related titles -- notably TNA Impact and Blitz the League -- that stray from the Madden formula of on-field action into wrestling and NFL players bar fighting with Midway's signature blood-and-guts style.

So why is Midway reeling in a world obsessed with gaming in all its forms, to the tune of somewhere near $20 billion in PROFITS in 2008? Simple answer is that they just don't have very good games and have lived off their early Mortal Kombat success too long. Today's gamers demand not only a realistic experience, but constant innovation. Midway's games aren't boring, but they are stale. And stale in the gaming world is enough to rip your spine out, hit you with a napalm ball or dice you into tar tar in a death scene befitting any MK best-of fatalities clip.

mark_prior_padres.jpgSeldom are 1,100 words dedicated to a player profile in a major daily newspaper. Especially when that player hasn't actually played in a game in two years.

And yet, the San Diego Union-Tribune did exactly that with a story that's becoming a yearly tradition -- the will-he, won't-he Mark Prior pitch again story.

Because very few of us have time to devour 1,100 words on the Web without risking seizure and migraine, I'll sum up reporter Bill Center's piece:
izzo-dance.jpgMichigan State basketball coach -- in my completely unbiased opinion the best coach in all the land -- will sing and dance for the amusement of others at a May event called "Izzo Goes to Broadway."

The bill promises that Izzo will take part in "an evening of song, dance and inspiration ... along with performers direct from the bright lights of Broadway and loads of special guests."
The FBI is planning to shift some of its resources to the case of the person (or persons) who cut into the Tuscon, Arizona broadcast of this year's Super Bowl with 30 seconds of porn.
Not content to let all of this Michael Phelps madness disappear in a puff of smoke, South Carolina authorities seem to be actively gathering evidence to use against the swimmer.

Joseph McCulloch and Dick Harpootlian, the lawyers of two men arrested for marijuana possession claim the police seem hell-bent on nailing Phelps in connection with the arrests.
erin-andrews.jpgThere are certain dynasties in sports.

The New York Yankees. The Boston Celtics. Even Notre Dame football, from what old newsreels tell me. And, of course, Erin Andrews.

The sideline reporter and page-view juggernaut captured Playboy's Sexiest Sportscaster award for the second consecutive year. This is obviously no big surprise to anyone who has ever volleyed this question around with friends.

2009 Sexiest Sportscaster of the Year: Erin Andrews     (Playboy)

If you missed the Late Show with David Letterman featuring an interview with Joaquin Phoenix, you missed an exercise in squirmingly uncomfortable comic gold.

Phoenix was on to tout his new movie or his hip hop career or ... well ... who knows, really. Truth is, he might be the new Doublemint spokesman for all the gum chewing he did in lieu of actual speaking or human interaction.

roy.jpgHouston Astros pitcher Roy Oswalt has some pretty clear opinions on how to address the gaudy statistics Alex Rodriguez has amassed in his career.

He wants them erased.

""A-Rod's numbers shouldn't count for anything," Oswalt said in a phone interview with MLB.com. "I feel like he cheated me out of the game."
Oswalt's feelings extend to other proven steroids users as well.
marijuanaphelps.jpgIt's odd that a column saying it's a "pity" Michael Phelps didn't have the courage to stand up and defend his marijuana use is not even close to the most controversial thing Forbes magazine has offered in the past 24 hours.

That honor would of course go to yesterday's piece rating Chicago as America's third-most miserable city.

But... it certainly is an interesting take.
Thumbnail image for redstockings.gifAbout a month ago, I experienced a deadly mixture of nostalgia and jealousy when we found out about a 72-year-old Fresno, Calif. woman who happened upon a 1869 Cincinnati Red Stocking baseball card.

Today, I'm able to put a price tag on those feelings.

Antique dealer Bernice Gallego, who originally put the card on eBay for a mere $10, ended up $64,073 richer.

Sports Illustrated swimsuit cover model Bar Refaeli's jaw-dropping likeness has been boldly affixed to the side of a Southwest Airlines Boeing 737. The plane will be flying between Las Vegas and New York for a limited time.

SI plane.jpgIs this the best plane ever? Is there even a debate?
reggie bush.jpgIn news that will surely delight old-school football fans and wreck havoc on taunting your opponent in football video games, the NCAA is considering a rule change that would impose harsher penalties on celebration.

Currently, post-touchdown celebrations are assessed as dead-ball fouls. Under the proposed change, these would become live-ball penalties if the scoring player began taunting before reaching the end zone.

This is not a formal proposal and wouldn't take effect for at least two years, rules chairman Mike Bellotti said.
white horse.jpgI don't know about all of you, but there have been so many times in my life where I've been thoughtfully surveying a field or open pasture of some kind and thought to myself, "This is nice, but it would be so much better if there were a 50-meter tall statue of a white horse right over there."

Finally, this desire is being addressed.

The good people of England have decided to build one in the countryside area of Ebbsfleet Valley, set to be a new stop on the Eurostar London-to-Paris rail link.

It seems a little ostentatious, doesn't it?

Giant horse to tower over UK countryside     (CNN)
stump.jpgAny journalist worth their weight would have no problem coming up with an old dog, new tricks lead for the story about a 10-year-old Sussex spaniel winning the Westminster Kennel Club dog show.

The dog, Stump, escaped a near-death experience in 2004 and beat out a field of well-groomed competitors Tuesday night to become the oldest winner in show history.

And, whomever penned the AP story couldn't be more excited about it.
aikman.jpgWe'd like to congratulate former NFL star and current FOX analyst Troy Aikman on sticking to his education, and passing the last two courses he need to earn his degree from UCLA.

Aikman will graduate in June, 20 years after he left for the NFL. The ex-quarterback's major is sociology.

Yay education!

Aikman finally graduating from college    (ESPN)
miguel_tejada_steroids.jpg

Houston Astros shortstop Miguel Tejada has been charged with lying to Congressional investigators about steroids, according to an article posted to WashingtonPost.com.

WaPo reports:

"Federal prosecutors accused Tejada of making misrepresentations to Congressional staffers during an interview in a Baltimore hotel room focusing on the prevalence of steroids in the game."

Tejada was charged with lying about conversations he had with another player about steroids, and not about actually using them himself.

"That player, who was not named in court papers, is identifiable as Adam Piatt. They played together on the Oakland Athletics in 2003, and prosecutors allege that Tejada purchased human growth hormone from him that year. They do not accuse Tejada of using the substance or lying about his use of it, however."
Michael Phelps still isn't ready to commit to swimming in the 2012 Olympics. The gold-medal enthusiast spoke to the Baltimore Sun about the toll the past weeks have taken on him.

""It will take a few months," Phelps said. "I'll give it 30 or 60 days. I think it will be better. I'm already happier now than I was, just having some part of my life back to normal, being able to swim again, having fun, joking around."
'Happier' Phelps still mulling 2012 Games     (Baltimore Sun)
miserable chicago.jpgAs Chicagoans, we have a healthy amount of pride in our city. That goes without saying.
We like to view it as a world-class town and actively defend the weather, saying the gorgeous lakefront summers are worth the tough winters.

Forbes Magazine obviously cares not for this argument. The publication ranked Chicago as the third Most Miserable City in America.

Why, you ask?
In their typical fashion, the New York newspapers are having a field day with the A-roid scandal. If you're a sportswriter in the Big Apple, you're pretty much obligated to weigh in on the issue. Here are some highlights:

Over at the daily News, Bob Raissman takes umbrage with Peter Gammons' interview approach, likening it to a defense attorney's questioning of a client. John Harper wants more details. Mike Lupica questions A-Rod's definition of "the truth."

"He kept talking about GNC as if that's where you could pick up testosterone and Primobolan along with Vitamin C," writes Lupica. "That version of things wouldn't fly on 'Judge Judy.'"

Derek Jeter and Jorge Posada have assured the New York Post their names are not among the 104 who tested positive for banned substances in 2003. Joel Sherman addresses the road to rebuilding A-Rod's good name. Here's a hint ... he needs to play really well. And then there's the fan reaction -- which includes a man almost choking on his beer.

At Newsday, they're wondering whether A-Rod will need to testify before Congress. Neil Best also took issue with Gammons' lack of tough questions in his interview approach. Wallace Matthews, meanwhile, praises A-Rod for "coming clean."

And finally, Jack Curry of the New York Times addresses the media blitz during spring training that awaits A-Rod when the team reports to Tampa later this month.


After the jump you'll find the Newsday, Daily News and New York Post front pages from today.

sports_illustrated_bar_rafaeli.jpg


For much, much more, visit Sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2009_swimsuit/.
petakkk.jpgIt seems that not everyone shares our excitement over the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show at Madison Square Garden Monday night.

The animal rights advocacy group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals had two of its members dress up as members of the Ku Klux Klan outside the arena to attract attention to their cause.
arod red.jpgPeter Gammons' interview of Alex Rodriguez was one of the most compelling and important sit-downs we've seen in a long time and was packed to the gills with interesting talking points. Since everyone on the internets is jumping on this story like a 2-0 fastball in the fat part of the plate, let's try and take this in a different direction.

During the course of the talk, Rodriguez took some pretty healthy cuts at Sports Illustrated reporter Selena Roberts, who co-wrote the bombshell piece with David Epstein.
plaxsue.jpgPlaxico Burress, who famously suffered a self-inflicted gunshot wound at a New York City nightclub in November, has been sued at least nine times by people who said he failed to pay a debt, damaged their car or didn't pay his taxes since entering the league in 2000.

The New York Post has all the details, ones that paint the wide receiver in less than a flattering light. Definitely worth your time, if only for this quote:

""I got a note from Plaxico saying, 'Sorry for the inconvenience. Please inform the court that the judgment has been paid,'" Malin said.

"Then the check bounced."

Long before shooting, Plaxico sued over debts     (New York Post)

buttershawn.jpgThe news that American gymnast Shawn Johnson will be on "Dancing with the Stars" gives us cause to dust of this Aug. 22 column in which Sports Pros(e) contributor manages to wax nostalgically about abandoned Olympic dreams and show off a picture of a life-sized, buttery Shawn Johnson she snapped at the Iowa State fair.

It's almost be stupid if we didn't rerun it.

BY LINDSEY MILLER Sports Pros(e) Contributor

I have always thought of the Olympics as the wimpy sports. The sports that don't attract the stereotypical men sitting on their couches with a beer. The sports for kids and juice-the sports for non-sports fans. When I was younger, I would to settle into the soft family room couches with my family during the Olympics and we'd watch exclusively figure skating in the winter and gymnastics in the summer. Leaving, of course, whenever any other sport came on. There was even a time when I wanted to become a figure skater when I grew up-until I realized that ice sports are not entirely practical in California, where I grew up. Nor did I ever really like skating. I enrolled in gymnastics, but always enjoyed playing with the chalk and jumping in the foam pit at the end of class more than I liked flipping or balancing. Regardless of my own early failures, the Olympics contained the only two sports I actually enjoyed watching. They weren't like the occasional long weekend afternoons I would reluctantly spend with my dad watching baseball or football, never quite conscious of which team was up to bat or which line the football was supposed to get to. Forget about all those goal posts, nets and other sweaty summer sports and snowy winter sports. I had eyes only for Michelle Kwan and Shannon Miller and the Olympics.
kosterGH.jpgThe author fails miserably in his attempt to break the world record of Guitar Hero points.

You're probably familiar with the Guitar Hero series by now. The video game demands you shred along with some of rock's hardest licks in time to accumulate points and prestige.

It's wildly, wildly addictive. In fact, it inspired me to buy a Playstation 2 and the release on a whim and then proceed to play for an unprecedented 14 hours, neglecting sleep, work and social engagements.

Over the past few years, I've been privy to some pretty heavy shredding by Guitar Hero experts, but all seem pretty pathetic next to the efforts of 14-year-old Danny Johnson. The Texas teen recently set a world record for most points by racking up 890,971.
A high school swim coach in Connecticut has been fired for his involvement in the production of T-shirts mocking a student who had quit the team.

The shirts in question read: "The Mascot is a quitter," and referred to a swimmer who quit the team when he was not made captain.

This also is not the first time the coach in question, Kevin Quill, has come under scrutiny for the team's choice of clothing slogans.
dogshow.jpgThose of you suffering cute dog withdrawal after watching the Puppy Bowl on Super Bowl Sunday can take solace in the knowledge that there will be more televised canine sports tonight.

The Westminster Kennel Club 133rd Annual Dog Show is taking place today and tomorrow at Madison Square Garden in New York City. The Hound, Terrier, Non-Sporting, and Herding group competition will be televised live Monday on USA Network from 8-9PM ET and continuing on CNBC from 9-11PM ET. The Sporting, Working, Toy, and Best In Show competition will be televised live Tuesday on USA Network from 8-11PM ET.

You're probably sitting there wondering, "For the love of all things holy, who, prey tell, is going to win Best in Show this go-around?"

Lucky for you, NBC Sports is on the beat.

CNN has a very disturbing report about a 47-year-old man marrying an 8-year-old girl to settle a debt in Saudi Arabia.

It seems like a no-brainer that this is just wrong, but as Nic Robertson reports, the issue is a tricky one for those looking to end it.

"Saturday Night Live," in their infinite wisdom, weighed in on the still-smoldering Michael Phelps story with a little segment that encourages Americans to be incredulous.

tigerelin.jpgTiger Woods and wife Elin welcomed their second child into the world Sunday, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune.

A source with ties to the Woods family reported the news to the paper, but no announcement was made about the birth, and Woods' representatives did not return phone calls and e-mails.

The couple's first child, Sam Alexis, was born in July 2007.

Tiger becomes father for second time     (San Diego Union-Tribune)
lionsplay.jpgWe don't talk about the theater as much as we should around here, and what better time to start than when news surfaces about a play centering around the Detroit Lions.

Clearly a tragedy, "Lions" centers around a fan going through a rough patch in his life. In addition to being very believable, the premise hits very, very close to home for millions of Michiganians still waiting on that first Super Bowl title. Or even a winning season.

The work -- unlike the hapless franchise that inspired it -- recently received a favorable review from the Los Angeles Times.
texkiss.jpgIf you've ever wondered why kissing feels so good (besides the obvious desire for human affection), a new study has some answers for you.

It turns out a complex series of chemical reactions are set in motion when you lock lips with your sweetheart. Romantic, huh?
jamal.jpgFormer Atlanta Falcons running back and Dirty Bird enthusiast Jamal Anderson was arrested early Sunday morning after a police officer saw him sniffing cocaine in the men's room of a bar.

And, since if you're going to be sniffing cocaine in the men's room of a bar, it's best to have company:

"Anderson, 36, and Mark Daniel Hudson, 20, both of Duluth, were in the same stall inside the men's room at Peachtree Tavern about 3 a.m., sniffing powder cocaine off the toilet tank, said police spokesman Otis Redmond.
Anderson rushed for 1,846 yards in 1998 and served as an analyst for ESPN's First Take this past season.

Ex-Falcons star Jamal Anderson arrested for drug possession   (AJC)
Alex Rodriguez sat down with CBS' Katie Couric in 2007 for an interview that aired on "60 Minutes." In it, the Yankee slugger flat-out denied every having used steroids, but as we've learned today, that might not exactly be true.

Here's an excerpt of the interview.



Has your view of Rodriguez changed in light of this news, coupled with his stone-faced denial? What will his legacy be?
subwayphelps.jpgIt's been a pretty rough week for former American golden boy Michael Phelps. Photographic evidenced that seemed to show him enjoying the business end of a bong surfaced, he apologized, was punished and began to see his endorsement dollars dissipate.

But all is not lost for Mr. Phelps. Sandwich juggernaut Subway has announced they're sticking by the swimming star.
beckham10M.JPGSo just how much is soccer superstar and international sex symbol David Beckham worth to the Los Angeles Galaxy?

Evidently, more than $10 million.

The Los Angeles Times is reporting that the Galaxy turned down an offer that size by AC Milan to keep the ball-bending enthusiast.

LA Galaxy turn down 10 million dollar offer for Beckham - report   (AFP)
krispykreme.jpgIf there's one thing that sounds like a good idea, it's combining the very enjoyable acts of running and scarfing down doughnuts. I mean, what could possibly go wrong?

That's the idea behind the Fifth Annual Krispy Kreme Challenge taking place in Raleigh, N.C. today.

"Participants begin by running a two-mile race, with stacks of Krispy Kreme donuts awaiting them at the end. After eating a dozen donuts, participants race the two-mile trail again, back to their starting point. The key is to finish the challenge in under an hour, not get sick in the process and raise as much funding as possible for the hospital in Chapel Hill.
My stomach hurts just thinking about this, but kudos to the good people of North Carolina on finding an innovative way to raise money for a good cause.

Run, eat donuts and run again for children      (News 14)
alex_rodriguez_steroids.jpgSports Illustrated is reporting today that four sources have told the magazine that Alex Rodriguez, reportedly dubbed "A-fraud" by Yankee teammates, tested positive for two anabolic steroids in 2003.

From SI.com:

"Rodriguez's name appears on a list of 104 players who tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs in Major League Baseball's '03 survey testing, SI's sources say. As part of a joint agreement with the MLB Players Association, the testing was conducted to determine if it was necessary to impose mandatory random drug testing across the major leagues in 2004."
lechler.jpgKickers generally take a verbal beating from their bigger, more athletic teammates. It's just the way the world works. 

A far more tangible beating was bestowed on Raiders punter Shane Lechler by Terdell Sands on the team flight home from Denver on Nov. 23. According to five sources, Sands punched Lechler in the face.

Sands was not suspended or fined by the team.

Won't anyone stand up for the kickers?

Lechler's Oakland days appear over     (San Francisco Chronicle)
In the wake of the tragic death of Sean Taylor and the self-inflicted gunshot wound of Plaxico Burress, Blackwater Worldwide is opening up its firearm training ranges and safety workshops to professional athletes.

Blackwater, which is best known for protecting American diplomats in Iraq, will begin the weekend training courses in April. Thus far, no professional athletes have signed up. But, as you might imagine, the NFL is not too pleased with the company scheduling these sessions during football's offseason.
theboss.jpgIf only this little gem had come to light in time to bring up as a talking point during the Super Bowl.

Pittsburgh Steelers running back Willie Parker admitted on the Best Damn Sports Show Podcast that he'd never heard of Bruce Springsteen before his halftime performance.

What?

Now, Parker is 28 years-old and The Boss isn't wildly popular with the members of the Playstation generation, but not knowing who he is just seems ridiculous.
sharpe_spurrier.jpg

If Steve Spurrier allows someone to wear No. 2 at South Carolina next year, Shannon Sharpe's "guts will definitely be ripped out," the former Gamecock great told radio station WNKT-FM 107.5.

Spurrier apparently asked Sharpe twice if he could have his blessing in un-retiring the former Green Bay Packer's number so he could give it to incoming receiver Alshon Jeffery.

TheState.com reports, "After choosing the Gamecocks over Southern Cal on Wednesday, Jeffery said Spurrier told him he could keep the No. 2 he wore at Calhoun County. Duane Wages, the Saints' offensive coordinator, said Sharpe has signed off on the idea. That is not the case."
dictonary.jpgThe Cleveland Cavaliers are using a unique way to express their anger over guard Mo Williams being passed over for an All-Star selection.

They're making up words.

""Ben Wallace was right when he called Mo originally being passed over for the All-Star Game a shamockery," Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert said in a tongue-in-cheek e-mail to The Associated Press. "But not naming him as the natural and obvious replacement for the unfortunately injured Jameer Nelson is stupidiculous, idillogical and preposterageous."
They do have a point. This whole thing is obstentingulous and boguduxical.

Stern doesn't pick Williams as reserve     (ESPN)
grap.jpgThere are few times when I regret moving from Grand Rapids, Mich. to Chicago, but I must admit that after reading about the outrageous Jessica Simpson concert that took place there last night, this is one of those times.

The 28-year-old blond bombshell? singer was visually shaken in front of the crowd, talking about how vulnerable she felt and how difficult it was to be on stage.

Simpson's beau and NFL regular-season enthusiast Tony Romo apparently missed his flight to the show, and MLive says the singer appeared to leave the stage in tears after the final song.
dwyane_wade_std.jpg
CLEAN GETAWAY: Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade leaves the Daley Center in downtown Chicago yesterday. (Brian Jackson/Sun-Times)

The estranged wife of Chicago native and NBA star Dwyane Wade on Thursday dropped her charge that the Miami Heat guard gave her a sexually transmitted disease.
siohvaughn.jpg
The charge was included in a divorce filing against Wade being heard in Cook County. Wade's attorney James B. Pritikin told the Sun-Times that the accusation by Siohvaughn Wade (right) "was never true" and that his client was pleased the matter was removed from the divorce case.

Siohvaughn Wade, whom the basketball star met when they were students at Richards High School in Oak Lawn, accused Wade of infidelity and sought the names of "All of his sexual partners" during their six-year marriage.

Cook County Judge Fe Fernandez continued the case until March.

Dwyane Wade, STD's, Child Support And You [Deadspin]
National Signing Day is right up there with National Corndog Day on my list of least favorite unofficial observances. It strikes me as entirely ridiculous that we would celebrate players who haven't proven themselves on any sort of meaningful level, and who may very well turn out to be complete busts. At least with professional sports drafts, you're working with players who have (unless you're the Bears) accomplished something slightly more noteworthy than "State Champs!" In talking to a few friends who have been given the unenviable task of providing 360 degree coverage of National Signing Day, I'm not alone in my journalistic distaste for this, the most maudlin of all American sporting traditions.

Dudes who get excited about the fact that an 18-year-old has committed to their favorite school remind me of the motley crew that waits impatiently outside the Wrigley Field players' parking lot for hours waiting for Carlos Marmol to sign their 2007 NL Central Division Champs pennant. We all have much better things to do, don't we? We have to have better things to do.

That said, National Signing Day does have a special way of reminding us how ... um ... sophomoric and awkward 18-year-olds can be. Especially when we meet them in the wake of an illustrious high school career during which they're told repeatedly that they're anything but sophomoric and awkward.
If there are two things in this world I love about the same amount, it's the Detroit Pistons and anything associated with Beyonce's "Single Ladies" dance.

So you can imagine how excited I was when -- through the magic of Facebook -- this Detroit Free Press story was brought to my attention this morning. It chronicles rise of a very popular video sweeping Pistons nation that features the team's mascot, Hooper, doing a parody of Miss Knowles captivating gyrations.

One guy seems particularly excited about it, though.
kevin_costner_baseball2.jpg

In the 1989 film "Field of Dreams" Kevin Costner's character Ray Kinsella, prompted by ominous assurance that "people will come," builds a baseball field in the middle of nowhere.

Zion, Ill. isn't exactly the middle of nowhere, but Costner is certainly hoping people will come to the 8,000-capacity minor league baseball stadium he and others are planning to build there.

A Northern League expansion team will call the as-yet-unnamed stadium home. Construction on the stadium is slated to begin this summer with the goal of getting a team on the field for the 2010 season.
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Connie, Brittney and Jarrett Payton attend the Walter Payton Man of the Year Press Conference prior to Super Bowl XLIII held at the Tampa Convention Center Jan. 30. (AP Photo)

Friend of the blog Jarrett Payton was in Tampa last week for the Super Bowl festivities, specifically to give out the NFL award that bears his father's name -- the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award. Per usual, Jarrett documented the occasion for his highly entertaining Peeze blog.

Jarrett was on the field for the game, and in his latest video blog post of his game-day experience, watch out for cameos by Antrel Rolle (Jarrett's former Miami teammate), Lynn Swann, John Elway, Roger Goodell and Edgerrin James among others:

 
kay yow.jpgIn what is possibly the most tasteless act of graffiti in history, vandals have defaced mural depicting the late North Carolina State women's basketball coach Kay Yow.

Yow battled a very public, decades-long battle with breast cancer before passing away Jan. 24.

The offenders added a blue mustache and the phrase "cancer rules" to the portrait.

Classy.

Coach Yow mural defaced     (News Observer)


It's no secret that "Seinfeld" is far and away my favorite television show of all-time. In short, the genius of the show was that it was art so seamlessly imitating the everyday minutiae of life.

Today the tables were turned as my cohort Kevin and I were harmlessly walking down Sheffield. Much like Jerry and Elaine, we happened upon a man in a cape.

That's right, an actual man in an actual cape.

We were brave enough to get this photographic evidence:

cape.jpg


Super Bowled out? Done with the weepy ending to the Australian Open? Can figure out how to best waste company time AND bandwidth today in the sports doldrums?

My friends, I bring you Google Earth, 5.0 Beta, available for download today.

Sure, you've already spent hours tracking all the place you'd go if money were no object. You've inspected the Great Wall of China. The Parthenon. The Kremlin You've probably even used it for useful stuff, like mapping your way to the Dells or stalking that hot girl from junior high that you always knew would have gone out with you if only you'd asked. So what's so special about this release?

Well, you can go under the ocean for one. They've added a detailed mapping of the oceans that lets you dive in and check out the watery parts of the world - sorry, Atlantis not added yet. They do some cool stuff here with National Geographic video and mapping and also use Jaques Cousteau explorations via video. If you like the fishies, this is sweet.

You also get to toggle between current and historical images - you can see, for instance, what Soldier Field looked like BEFORE the space ship landed on it. For those of you expecting to watch the dinosaurs or the Civil War, remember, this is satellite imagery, so there is a shortish date range that applies.

And, because we all need more ways to spread ourselves across the Web, you can now map out your own trips in a recordable travelog format. So now it's much easier for people you have no concept of ever knowing to follow your every step in this great world.

It really is pretty sweet, the lack of dinosaurs notwithstanding. Download - for Windows, Mac and Linux - and drag your productivity down for a while, won't you?

Thumbnail image for phelpsbong.jpgNow that Michael Phelps has all but admitted he is the bong-sucking subject of this damning photograph first published by News of the World, we're left to wonder exactly what kind of impact this scandal is going to have on his career.

The shining star of the Beijing Olympics didn't challenge the authenticity of the photo and apologized for his behavior.

""I engaged in behavior which was regrettable and demonstrated bad judgment," Phelps said. "I'm 23 years old and despite the successes I've had in the pool, I acted in a youthful and inappropriate way, not in a manner people have come to expect from me. For this, I am sorry. I promise my fans and the public it will not happen again."
This is not Phelps' first PR hit. In 2004, at the age of 19, he was arrested on drunken driving charges. And while right now it looks like there won't be any suspension by the powers-that-be, Phelps stands to lose boatloads of endorsement dollars.

But, should he? Do you really care that Phelps allegedly engaged in an activity that so many world leaders and titans of industry dabbled in? Is his recreational marijuana use really that upsetting to you?

It's hard to tell if Comcast will be the butt of many jokes in the Tuscon area after the local NBC station, KVOA, broadcast a few moments of full-frontal male nudity from a porno.

Ironically, the gentleman in the movie was scoring just seconds after the Cardinals' Larry Fitzgerald had gotten into the end zone himself in the fourth quarter to put Arizona ahead with about 3 minutes left.

Now, obviously there were plenty of hopping-mad viewers, though whether they were angrier over missing out on John Madden fumbling through the touchdown analysis or having this guy dropping trow remains to be seen.

Comcast, for their part, promises a full investigation.

No word on whether the actress was named "Heidi."

sbdip.jpgIn a miraculous turn of fate, Kevin and I have a mutual day off that happens to fall on Super Bowl Sunday.

There's a copious amount spinach-based dip and a tremendous variety of hard alcohol on the counter -- as well as the NBC pregame on the HD television.

We're planning on chiming in with news, views and generally innocuous statements throughout the game.

  • We're a bit taken aback by the new lead singer of Journey, a development we each had absolutely no idea had even taken place. Apparently, his name is Arnel Pineda and he got the gig after the other Journey-men discovered him on YouTube. Only two hours until actual football.
  • Bob Costas is making no secret about the pregame hoopla being a little long. We appreciate his honesty.
  • Kevin was pretty hungry when he came over and even had a notion to travel back up to Wrigleyville to experience the new Taco Bell enchilada platter extravaganza -- going so far as to put the commercial on pause just to really make sure that Kyle had the ability to drink in the platter's gloriousness. Instead, Kyle suggested we get the party started early. We did so, breaking first into the spinach abrosia and then into the sprawling seven-layer dip (both of which are prominently featured in the above photo. Things are happening. Things. happening.