Chicago Sun-Times
A hearty stew of offbeat sports and pop culture.

July 2009 Archives

nomar-garciaparra-2003-steroids.JPGOn the same day that David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez were tied to that infamous 2003 MLB drug test, Oakland A's infielder Nomar Garciaparra said that several players declined to participate and asked that they be put down as testing positive.

He claims to know players who took this route because they wanted steroids testing -- including several members of the White Sox. Garciaparra admits that he doesn't know if players were forced to take the test or not.

Of all of the things you thought you'd never see, a nude photograph of baseball great Joe DiMaggio probably belongs near the top of the list. He was a very private person and besides, how do I put this, who would really want or need to see that?

Apparently an art gallery in San Francisco.
angles_in_the_outfield.jpgA few months back, when I was less mature than I am currently, it was commonplace to have a little fun with the slugs on the AP News Wire. Indiana-Jones and Walrus-Suit were just two examples of the sometimes wildly misleading titles we are forced to sift through. Today, we have another.

BC-BBA-Angels-Outfield,0397Angels Guerrero, Hunter closer to return to action
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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) Ñ The Los Angeles Angels are getting closer to having Vladimir Guerrero and Torii Hunter back in their lineup.
Angels manager Mike Scioscia said Friday that both Guerrero and Hunter are making good progress and that it is possible that both could be playing as soon as next week.
ÒVlad ran the bases today and that was a huge step for him and Torii went through some agility drills and hit,Ó Scioscia said prior to his teamÕs game at Minnesota. ÒVlad has made a lot of progress in the last four, five days. HeÕs getting close.

***

"Angels in the Outfield," for those of you have forgotten, was the feel-good story of a down-on-his-luck youngster and the sudden interest angels took in the then-California Angels' pennant chances. It starred Christopher Lloyd, a young Joseph Gordon-Levitt and featured brilliant work from Tony Danza, who played a pitcher in the twilight of his career.

Add it to your NetFlix queue immediately.
clayton-richard-jake-peavy-trade.JPGKEVIN ALLEN kjallen@suntimes.com

Shortly after Clayton Richard found out he was traded to the San Diego Padres for Jake Peavy, he called his family and told his dad that he had good news and bad news.

His dad asked for the bad news first.

"I said, 'Well, I got traded. So you're coming up [to Chicago from Indiana], but you're not going to see me throw,'" Richard said. 

His father then asked for the good news.

"I said, 'Well, you're bringing the truck up, right? You can help me move my stuff back home.'"
Ozzie Guillen was asked to share his thoughts on yesterday's David Ortiz steroid revelation. It was classic Ozzie before the series opener against the Yankees as he launched into a rant about the infamous 2003 list:

"Can somebody in baseball, please, we're all begging people, get that stupid list out and move on. This is ridiculous. This is embarrassing. This is a joke. Whoever is there is there; get them out and that's it. We're going to continue being alive, we're going to continue playing the game. But sitting here every freaking day, every manager, every player, responding to the same question, it's getting tired. It's old. Come on. If you're going to divorce me, divorce me right away. Don't say you're going to leave me. I'm serious. If you're going to talk every night, 'I'm going to divorce you,' no, get out of my house. Every week we've got to come up with this thing."

aj-pierzynski-white-sox.jpgNo one is going to accuse A.J. Pierzynski and Jim Thome of being too fleet of foot. Read: these dudes are slow.

But the catcher and designated hitter used their brains and what speed they have to scratch out a crucial run for the White Sox in the seventh inning of their dramatic 3-2 victory over the New York Yankees.

Thome led off the inning with a dribbler up the first-base line that Yankees starting pitcher Andy Petitte was unable to corral, and raced up the line to get on base -- like any good leadoff hitter would do. Pierzynski followed with a sharp liner to that glanced off Alex Rodriguez's glove and into left field for a single. The duo was still on first and second respectively when Carlos Quentin hit what looked to be an inning-ending double play ball to Rodriguez.

But, if there's one thing we know about Pierzynski, it's that he loves making his presence known.
Hawaii football coach Greg McMackin would like a do-over. Or us to not print him verbatim.

He has a good reason for both these wishes.

McMackin, speaking at the Western Athletic Conference's annual football media preview on Thursday morning, said the teams gathered the night before the game for a banquet when Irish coach Charlie Weis introduced the players and a ritual they do.

"I know most of the coaches in the country are rooting for us to beat Notre Dame," McMackin said. "Charlie gives this talk, 'We do something special at Notre Dame,' and (the players) get up and they do this little cheer ... this little faggot dance."

Perhaps realizing the consequences of broadcasting that slur in front of rolling tape recorders and WAC commissioner Karl Benson, McMackin asked that reporters not report on his comments.

"Don't write that 'faggot' down. I was misquoted," he said. "Just please ... cover for me," McMackin said. "Go ahead, say 'faggot dance.' No. Please cover for me on that, too -- right Karl? I'll deny it. Anything else?"
Cubs Pirates Trade Ba_Mill(2).jpgKevin Hart had just picked up his third consecutive win for the Cubs by limiting the Houston Astros to three runs in six innings. The 12-3 victory has put the 26-year-old right-hander's team eight games above .500 and in a first-place tie with St. Louis.

About twenty minutes after the final out was recorded, a gaggle of media surrounded him in the clubhouse as he packed his bags. But, unlike the rest of the Cubs, he wasn't off to catch the team flight to Miami.

He was off to join the Pittsburgh Pirates as part of a five-player trade that will being left-handed pitchers John Grabow and Tom Gorzelanny to the North Side. Hart, relief pitcher Jose Ascaino and minor-league infielder Josh Harrison are headed to the Pirates organization. 

So, there was Hart, explaining he had no idea anything like this was coming. Trying to wrap his mind around it.
michael-vick-most-hated-person-in-sports.jpgWhen we in the media are feeling particularly lazy, we simply forgo all the formal trappings of complete sentences and throw lists at you. It's quick, it's easy and it makes us feel like we're doing math -- something most writers aren't so hot at.

The people over at Forbes, perhaps feeling particularly spiteful today, give us a list of the 10 most hated personalities in sports.

As you might guess, Michael Vick is No. 1. Manny Ramirez, who earlier today made news for allegedly being on that 2003 steroids list, wins the not-coveted prize of second-most hated player in sports.

Here's the complete rundown:

1. Michael Vick
2. Manny Ramirez
3. Alex Rodriguez
4. Terrell Owens
5. Kobe Bryant
6. Allen Iverson
7. Isiah Thomas
8. Stephon Marbury
9. Nick Saban
10. John McEnroe

Any glaring omissions, haters?
Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz teamed up to win the World Series in 2004 and 2007, but they're now tied together as part of a group no ballplayer wants to be a part of.

Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz, the sluggers who propelled the Boston Red Sox to end an 86-year World Series championship drought and to capture another title three years later, were among the roughly 100 Major League Baseball players to test positive for performance-enhancing drugs in 2003, according to lawyers with knowledge of the results.
The list, which was supposed to remain confidential, is the same one that caused all that trouble for Alex Rodriguez and Sammy Sosa earlier this year.
Here at Sports Pros(e), there are few things we love more than a good mascot fight. Something about a big, dumb-looking, cartoonish creature doing anything but acting dumb and cartoonish just makes us happy.

Therefore, we were thrilled this morning to see Australian rugby's "Manly Sea Eagle" get into it with a fan.

As an added bonus, they interview the mascot after the game. After the jump, enjoy a few more videos of our favorite mascot melees.

erin-andrews-wrigley-field.JPGThe Erin Andrews saga continues today as a 911 call made by the ESPN broadcaster from her Georgia home has surfaced. Andrews, who was illegally videotaped while naked in her hotel room, called to complain about "paparazzi" loitering outside her home.

Listen to Andrews' 911 call
Warning: Contains adult language




TMZ.com obtained the tape of the 911 call and published it on the site Wednesday night.

In it, Andrews tells the dispatcher that two men were knocking on her door and looking inside her windows. The dispatcher tells Andrews she is unfamiliar with the news surrounding her.

Andrews explains to the dispatcher, "I'm the girl that was videotaped without her knowing, without her clothes on in the hotel."

Cops arrived to find members of the news media waiting outside for an interview with Andrews, who has not spoken publicly since the story blew up on the Web.

A transcript of the call is after the jump:
steve-bartman-espn-documentary.jpgHe just won't go away, no matter how much Cubs fans want him to.

Steve Bartman and his active hands will be the subject of an hour-long documentary on ESPN. The film will be directed by Alex Gibney, who drew rave reviews for his documentary on Enron.

The project will attempt to answer the question: Can Bartman ever forgive Chicago? Prepare to be made to feel bad about yourself.

The project does not yet have a title.
In a move that has the potential to plant himself firmly on Dana White's bad side, Fedor Emelianenko will headline EA Sports MMA fighter roster.

White, the enigmatic president of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, said recently that anyone who signed on to EA's MMA game would find themselves banned from fighting in UFC. But a release from EA Sports today said Emelianenko, arguably the world's top heavyweight, will be joined by Gegard Mousasi and Renato Sobral as the first to sign on to the MMA franchise.

Speculation swirled throughout the mixed martial arts blogosphere this morning about whether Emelianenko would announce today that he had signed with UFC. But the Los Angeles Times reported that there were "intense" talks between the 231-pound Russian heavyweight and UFC, but a deal would be unlikely until later this week.

OMG! So, Bobby told Paul who told Mike that Brian totally called Jay a "P***Y!"

Can you belieeeeeeeve it? Just take a listen for yourself (Graphic Language)



You'd think with ProFootballTalk's heralded move under the NBC peacock's plumage that they would up the ante in providing smart, in-depth coverage of the NFL.

Nah.

Just in time to take Brett Favre's place as the main football story in Minnesota, Vikings receiver and former Bear Bobby Wade told Paul Allen of KFAN that "during an offseason trip to Vegas with Bears middle linebacker Brian Urlacher, Urlacher expressed a not-so-flattering opinion of new Bears quarterback Jay Cutler," according to Mike Florio of Profootballtalk.com.

Here's what's going to happen:

Reporters are going to run to Brian Urlacher and ask him if he, indeed, called Jay Cutler a "p***y." Urlacher's going to deny it (which, by the way, he did). They'll ask him, even though he claims he didn't say it, whether he thinks Jay Cutler is a "p***y." Urlacher will then say something along the lines of, "This is why I hate talking to reporters."

Then reporters are going to run to Jay Cutler and ask him his reaction to the thing that Brian Urlacher said he didn't say in the first place. If he's smart, he'll Rosenhaus it.

Then everyone's going to know to meet in the parking lot of Halas Hall at 4:00 because Jay and Brian are gonna fight. Everyone will show up, but someone's mom will catch wind of it and drive up in her station wagon to drag her son away by the hair (so ... Cutler's mom, right?). Everyone will scatter and go on to speculate who would've won if they'd fought in the first place (Urlacher ... right?).

So instead of Jay and Brian fighting, they'll unite and both beat up Bobby -- that is, if my recollection of Middle School serves me correctly.

And now, Tommie Harris is stepping into the mix via Twitter to issue a denial on Urlacher's behalf:

tommie-harris-twitter-urlacher.jpgSimilarly, Chad OchoCinco has jumped on the ProFootBallTalk train with this somewhat NSFW tweet.

No matter what was or wasn't said, this promises to be a strong contender for Most Ridiculous Preseason Story Line for the Bears as they're two days from camp.

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Astros relief pitcher Jeff Fulchino reveals a ground hit ball by Chicago Cubs' Kosuke Fukudome that went into his jersey during the fifth inning of Tuesday's game. (AP Photo)

The strangest play during Tuesday night's slug-fest at Wrigley Field came in the fifth inning when Cubs leadoff hitter Kosuke Fukudome bounced a ball up the middle to Astros reliever Jeff Fulchino. The ball took an awkward hop and ricocheted off Fulchino's glove and into his jersey.

That's right ... the ball inexplicably found its way into his jersey.

With Fukudome streaking toward first base, Fulchino dug his hand into his jersey, but was unable to fish it out because the ball had wound its way around to his side. Not quite sure how to react, he threw his hands in the air -- a move akin to the motion outfielders make at Wrigley when a ball is lost in the ivy.

Fukudome was awarded first base, notching a hit on the play, and a laugh from Fulchino.

"I thought I had knocked it down," Fulchino said after the game. "I looked down and I was like, 'Where is it?' Then I felt it right over here to my side and I was like, 'You gotta be kidding me.' At that point there was nothing I could do so it was more frustration -- this is how my outing's going to start?"

The blooper would prove beneficial in the Cubs' comeback attempt, and set up the only bit of excitement for the 40,814 Cub fans in attendance. Third baseman Aramis Ramirez drove in Fukudome  and Derrek Lee three batters later on a home run to left field to tie the game 6-6.

After the game, the right-handed UConn alum was still uncertain about what exactly happened.

"It cracked the button on my shirt and when it ricocheted off,"  Fulchino said, stopping mid-sentence. "I don't know how it got in there. What can you say?"

Cubs manager Lou Piniella was equally at a loss for words about the play.

"How about that one?" Piniella said. "Just when you think you've seen everything ..."

Incidentally, Fulchino notched his first career hit in the game -- a double to the left-field corner off Sean Marshall.

He was asked whether he thought he would always remember his first major league hit as the game where he got a ball stuck in his jersey.

"I think it'll be the other way around," Fulchino said. "I think I'll remember the game because the ball got stuck in my jersey and I happened to get a hit that game."

What do you get when you mix an emotional professional athlete, a 24-hour streaming Webcam and some quality R & B?

If your answer was Stephon Marbury crying, you're absolutely right.

The free agent guard is one of the latest additions to life-streaming Web site Justin.tv. He appears in a recent video making the Internet rounds listening to Kirk Franklin's "Lean On Me" and sobbing. It's as weird as it sounds. Take a look: 



But it gets better ... or worse. Marbury then eats Vasaline:
34812241H13535831.JPGU.S. swimmer and Olympic relay gold medalist Ricky Berens is the latest victim of a shoddily constructed swimsuit. He tore the back of his swimsuit, exposing his backside right before he jumped in the pool for the qualifying heat of the 4x100 relay freestyle Sunday during the World Swimming Championships in Rome.

"I kind of freaked out for just a second," Berens told reporters. "I felt like [the hole] was almost down to my knees. I felt like I was putting on a pretty good show."

Luckily, the malfunction didn't slow him down too much. His relay team qualified for the finals and won.

Those looking for a more detailed photo gallery of the incident will find everything their NSFW hearts desire at the Huffington Post.
reggie-bush-kim-kardashian.jpgNew Orleans Saints running back and reality television queen Kim Kardashian are no longer a couple, according to a report from US Magazine.

The split was reportedly mutual.

"Nobody cheated," a source close to the couple says. "This is just a case of conflicting schedules and their lives going in different directions.

The ridiculously good-looking celebrity couple began dating in April 2007 and earlier this year appeared in a GQ photo spread that generated a good deal of page views for us. Thanks for that, guys.
For those of you out there who have expanded cable and miss the days when the Bulls were dominating their way through the NBA playoffs, the oft-ignored NBA-TV has you covered.

The station plans to air all 10 of the championship-clinching games that Phil Jackson has coached in his career.

Fire up your DVR because  this may be the only chance you have to see a Bulls championship celebration for a very long time.

Plus, it's always fun to watch Michael and Scottie being, well, Michael and Scottie.

Here's the schedule. Sure, it's already under way, but there's a full day of Phil-eriffic programming tomorrow:
We admit that our coverage of the RBC Canadian Open this year was a bit lax, but we bring you this stunning highlight of Leif "I totally called backboard" Olsen's hole-in-one on the par-three 15th hole:



Olsen Olsen won a BMW Z4 Roadster worth $51,650 for hitting the shot, which, for those of you keeping score at home, doubles his career earnings.
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Milton Bradley is safe as he hook-slides into home during the Cubs 5-2 win over the Cincinnati Reds Sunday. He said after the game he learned the move from watching Mike Fontenot. (AP Photo)

Ready your best baseball clichés; the Cubs are in first place.

Every game counts from here on out.

It sure is better to be the hunted than the hunters.

Take it one day at a time, one at-bat at a time moving forward.

Give 110 percent every time they take the field.

Then, let the chips fall where they may.

There were those who offered these and other rote post-game sound bites after Sunday's 5-2 win against the Cincinnati Reds. And then there was Milton Bradley.
The Detroit Tigers are interested in Cubs outfielder Milton Bradley. That was the hot rumor circulating the Wrigley Field press box and the world of internet bloggers on Saturday.

But it's all untrue, the Cubs said.
Thumbnail image for nick_montana.jpgNate Montana, who for some reason decided to become a quarterback, has left Notre Dame to attend Pasadena City College. The freshman had planned on walking on at the school -- a move that would make a perfect plot for a feel-good movie, coincidentally -- but is now opting to get some actual field experience.

A spokesman for the team said the move was not grade or discipline-related. Montana is expected to come back to South Bend for the spring semester.
dewayne-wise-white-sox-fan.jpgBy definition, Thursday was a perfect day for White Sox fans.

Some 48 hours later, you've probably fully digested the Mark Buehrle perfect game by clipping out copious amounts of newspaper articles, buying a No. 56 jersey and watching thousands of replays of the immortal Dewayne Wise catch. For our part, we in the media have peppered you with all of the angles, story lines and pageantry from that glorious afternoon. But, it seems one Washington Times writer wants to find a dark gray cloud in all of the silver linings.

Dick Heller, opining in an article titled "In Chicago, the dumb keep getting dumber," takes a White Sox fan to task for almost interfering with Wise as he made his spectacular catch. If I've learned one thing, it's that South Side supporters don't take too kindly to being compared to Cub fans.
baseball-robot.jpgIf I know two things, they are these: people love baseball and people love robots. So, why then has it taken so long for mankind to bring these two together? Seems like this should have been Job No. 1.

Anyway, a pair of baseball-playing robots have been developed by some intrepid scientists in Japan.

The pitching robot, with its three-fingered hand, can throw 90 percent of its pitches in the strike zone, won't need any relief from the bullpen and never asks for a pay rise.

The batting robot, which has a sensor to determine if pitches are strikes or balls, hits balls in the strike zone almost 100 percent of the time, doesn't swing at pitches outside the strike zone, and is guaranteed to pass all drug tests.

Sadly, these machines do not look like humans, so it appears Albert Pujols' nickname is safe for now.

Any equally nerdy '80s baby may recall the video game that first put this idea in our young minds -- Super Baseball 2020. Now, excuse me while I make an eBay purchase...

Allen Iverson may be misunderstood. That's the message he conveyed during a recent press conference following his  Hampton Celebrity-Charity Basketball game.

Iverson, who is still without a team to call his own for this upcoming NBA season, gave out two scholarships to local students. The media, he said, tends to focus on the negative aspects of A.I. (like his aversion to practice). But they fail to point out the good he does in the community.

Dr. J-Water over at The Hoop Doctors blog makes a good point about A.I.:

"I think a lot of people that look at Allen Iverson's exterior and judge him like they would a book by its cover are missing out on what this man is all about. He's a work horse, he's tough as nails, and he puts his friends and family before all else."

Here are some highlights from the charity game, and a clip of a choked-up Iverson talking about how it aint easy being A.I.: 
BY MIKE HALL The Big Ten Network

mike_hall_big_ten-thumb-250x241-7933.jpgMy family is made up entirely of White Sox fans. A few years ago we created a season-long game where we all pick "a guy." At the beginning of each April we choose a White Sox player, and for the rest of the season, that player is our guy. When he does something well, we give the family member credit as if they were the one who did something positive. Its like our own uber-simplified form of fantasy baseball. My mom may not know much about the south siders, but she knows that, as she'd say, "Thome's my homey!"

This year the rest of my family chose the following players- Jim Thome, Paul Konerko, A.J. Pierzynski, Jermaine Dye, and Carlos Quentin. The common trend is that they're all position players. Except for me and my guy.

Every year we've done this game, I've chosen a guy who will only take the field every fifth game. And its just about a Hall family consensus that I've won our game every year. Why? Because my guy has always been Mark Buehrle.

People are often confused on how to spell his last name. As we know from Thursday, its simple: just seven letters... P-E-R-F-E-C-T.
mark-buehrle-perfect-game.jpgIt looked like Mark Buehrle was going to fall three outs shy of perfection when Tampa Bay Rays right fielder Gabe Kapler blasted a ball to deep left center to lead off the ninth inning. But, it turns out a Wise defensive decision by manager Ozzie Guillen saved the day and preserved just the 18th perfect game in major league history.

Dewayne Wise, who had just taken over in center field for Scott Podsednik, made one of the most spectacular and meaningful catches in White Sox history -- a wall-crashing, ball-juggling masterpiece destined for endless replay to keep the game blemish-free.

"It's probably the best catch I ever made because of the meaning of the game," Wise said.

All those who weren't sure if he was going to hang on are in good company. He wasn't so sure either.
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Tim Tebow addresses the media at a news conference at the Southeastern Conference football Media Days in Hoover, Ala. July 23. (AP Photo)

Florida quarterback Tim Tebow is a virgin.

We know this because a Fanhouse reporter decided the sex life of a college quarterback is appropriate football fodder, despite his colleague's impassioned chiding of exactly that type of 'sports' journalism.

With a laugh, a quip and the words, "Yes, I am," Tebow became perhaps the only college kid in the country who will be asked in a public forum to discuss such a private matter.

To Tebow's credit, he didn't shy away from it or Rosenhaus it. He's a proud Christian, determined to be a role model for fans and fellow players. He's never avoided talking about his faith, and by all accounts he's someone who talks the talk and walks the walk. He calls reporters, "sir" and "ma'am." He says "please" and "thank you." And it's all Southern gentlemanly genuine.

Big 10 Media Day is July 27 here in Chciago, and I can guarantee you that  no one will ask Terrelle Pryor, Evan Royster, Juice Williams, Brandon Minor or any player in attendance whether they've had sex -- especially if this precedent hadn't been set.

Was the Fanhouse question inappropriate? That's for Tebow to decide -- and it seems that he decided it wasn't or he wouldn't have answered it.

But the 'have you had sex?' question is something you ask your buddy -- maybe. And Tim Tebow is not buddies with any Fanhouse reporter.

What if Tebow's answer was 'no'? People would go insane. Questions of how often and with whom would sprout up -- not to mention that he'd be called a hypocrite by folks who have no business calling anyone a hypocrite.

Tim Tebow doesn't need to be held to the standards of his religious beliefs by the national media. The national media has only the right to hold him to the standard set forth by the NCAA and University of Florida.  

Singling out a player in a press conference based on his religious beliefs is a dangerous and awkward practice -- especially at the college level when these guys are facing enough stress and pressure on and off the field.

And it's simply none of our business.
Taylor Mattingly, the son of legendary Yankees first baseman Don Mattingly, was arrested in Indiana after allegedly assaulting his mother and spitting on her.

Mattingly told investigators he was upset at an insulting text message by his mother, Kim Mattingly, and admitted "he snapped, pushed Kim down and spit on her," deputy Nathan Espenlaub wrote in his affidavit. Kim Mattingly said her son was arguing about problems he encountered trying to trade in a car and her recent decision to cancel the cable TV at the ranch he was staying in, The Courier & Press reported. About 15 minutes after the service was cut, the affidavit said, Taylor Mattingly arrived at his mother's home. The two began to argue, according to The AP.
The younger Mattingly is not as gifted on the baseball diamond as his father, but did manage to play one year of Rookie ball for the Yankees organization. Don is the hitting coach for the Los Angeles Dodgers and split with Kim in 2007.

terrell-owens-to-show-vh1.JPG"The T.O. Show" made its debut on VH1 last night, and the reviews are decidedly mixed. In the absence of any semblance of a real storyline (which I've heard involves conflict), the show's producers have decided there are two warring factions within this one man -- T.O., the self-styled "the most dominating force in football" and Terrell, "the nicest guy you'll ever meet."

In short, Terrell Owens contains multitudes.

If you missed it, you can catch the first full episode here.

But this particular flavor of celebrity train wreck got us thinking here at Sports Pros(e) -- which Chicago athletes would make good subjects for a reality show about their life?

Immediately the name Joakim Noah comes to mind, if only based on his well-publicized post-season trip to St. Barts -- photographic evidence of which is NSFW.

Throw a camera on the always-outspoken White Sox A.J. Pierzynski or Mark Buehrle, and chances are you'll be able to cull together some compelling TV.

It was recently revealed that underachieving Cub Milton Bradley was nicknamed T.O. in the Texas Rangers clubhouse. Perhaps we could explore the two warring factions of Milton?

In Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, the Blackhawks have a couple of Teen Choice Award locks. Although something tells me a reality show with these two would be a bit too PG.

For the Bears? Devin Hester managed to entertain us enough in a one-minute commercial that barely showed his face -- sign him up.

There are also some dark-horse candidates who play in our fair city that could make for some entertaining television. Octavio Dotel is one of the loudest and funniest people in the White Sox clubhouse. Also, Carlos Zambrano talks about himself in the third person, which always translates well on television.

What do you think, Chicago sports fans? Which of your vaunted athletes would you watch on a reality TV show?

The Pittsburgh Pirates, whose philosophy seems to be "get rid of all our best players," have reportedly agreed to deal first baseman Adam LaRoche to the Boston Red Sox in exchange for prospects.

To be fair to the Bucs, LaRoche is pulling in just over $7 million this season and will be a free agent after the year. They weren't expected to court him in the offseason.

The left-handed hitter was leading the Pirates with 12 home runs and 40 RBI and will join former teammate Jason Bay out in Boston.

Earlier this season, the Pirates dealt All-Star-caliber center fielder Nate McLouth and up-and-coming speedster Nyjer Morgan.
marc-anthony-j-lo-miami-dolphins.jpgIf you've ever been about three bags of Gardetto's snack mix and seven Coors Lights deep on a fall Sunday and thought, 'You know, I love football, but wouldn't it be better if we could somehow get J-Lo more involved,' then your day has come.

Husband of Jennifer Lopez and needing-to-know enthusiast Marc Anthony was introduced today as a minority owner of the Miami Dolphins.

The Latin pop star, who is married to actor-singer Jennifer Lopez, joins Gloria Estefan as a minority owner of the Dolphins. Jimmy Buffett has resisted the efforts of Ross to join the ownership team, but will play two concerts this year at the newly christened LandShark Stadium, named after his signature beer.

corona-wide-open-chicago.jpgNorth Avenue Beach will be flooded with more volleyball than usual this weekend, as the Corona Wide Open rolls into Chicago. While the AVP tour allows only the cream of the volleyball crop to showcase their talent, Corona Wide Open founder and volleyball legend Karch Kiraly found a void when it came to giving "the other 99.9 percent of the players around the country" a chance to compete.

Chicago is the seventh stop on the eight-city tour, and offers a chance for volleyball enthusiasts at a variety of skill levels with men's, women's and co-ed 2-on-2 or 4-on-4 teams. There's still plenty of time to register before the Friday @ 5 p.m. deadline. And the best part -- winners are going to the U.S. Open of Beach Volleyball, all expenses paid.

In honor of this weekend's event, we caught up with the 48-year-old Kiraly to talk Chicago volleyball and what it's like to be the "Michael Jordan" of your chosen profession:
Thumbnail image for yankee-stadium1.jpgOh, New York.

You and your hot garbage smells, your abbreviated neighborhood names and your willingness to tell me to hustle it up when I'm in your way at a subway station.

You're one hell of a city and one hell of a baseball town.

My four-day jaunt out to the land of Bloomberg and overpriced street hot dogs wasn't work-related, but the amount of time spent discussing sports with strangers would suggest otherwise. It seemed every other person wanted to discuss the Mets injuries or the grandeur of Mark Teixiera with me, a simple corn-fed Midwesterner.

What a world.

But for all the talking, it was a moment of awed silence that made the loudest statement.

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(AP Photo)

As part of U.S. Cellular Field's Asian Heritage Night on Tuesday, there was plenty of singing, dancing and banging of drums to celebrate Asian culture.

On the field, however, White Sox rookie third baseman Gordon Beckham was giving fans plenty of reason to do some singing and drum-banging of their own -- namely the singing of Beckham's praises and banging of the drum for him to be considered for the American League Rookie of the Year award.

What -- too soon?

Sure, the season is barely past the midway point.

Sure, those of us in the Chicago media have a tendency to aggrandize players on a hot streak and completely vilify those who struggle.

Sure, he could get worn down in August -- in which case I'll hope no one remembers that I wrote this.

And yes ... with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, a man on first, his team down by a run and a chance to be the hero Beckham, who had been perfect at the plate all night, grounded out weakly to the pitcher to end the game.   

But for those 23,319 fans who watched Beckham go 3-for-4 and make a couple of solid plays in the field, there was little question of whether he should be considered.
As I sat and watched this year's ESPYs at the Wrigleyville Rockit, through the litany of mindless commercials, this Under Armor offering featuring Devin Hester caught my eye:

erin-andrews2.jpg

Erin Andrews, apparently performing a job few Webhead sports nerds knew she had.

Kyle and Kevin are the usual Erin Andrews documentary crew here at Sports Pros(e). And, frankly, their notable absence during the biggest news to break on the Erin Andrews Watch, the fact that the lovely and talented ESPN reporter has been filmed in nefarious fashion fresh out of the shower in her hotel room, is a bit suspicious.

When Erin is picked on, they're here to step up and defend her honor.

When Erin is physically abused on the diamond, they're here to sooth.

And when Erin steps onto the red carpet, K & K are on hand to approve of her fashion acumen.

Now she comes dangerously close to blowing up the Internet with a crazed search to find the blurry, pinhole video of her sporting the birthday suit, and they're nowhere to be found.

Yes, the video exists, evidenced by the this statement from her rep:

With respect to recent Internet postings of Erin Andrews, she has authorized her attorney, Marshall B. Grossman of Bingham McCutchen LLP, to issue the following statement:

"While alone in the privacy of her hotel room, Erin Andrews was surreptitiously videotaped without her knowledge or consent. She was the victim of a crime and is taking action to protect herself and help ensure that others are not similarly violated in the future. Although the perpetrator or perpetrators of this criminal act have not yet been identified, when they are identified she intends to bring both civil and criminal charges against them and against anyone who has published the material. We request respect of Erin's privacy at this time, while she and her representatives are working with the authorities."

And no, you won't find a link to her natural goodness here. For a couple of reasons: 1) It's not right and 2) it doesn't exist in a simple URL anymore. Sure, you can download it at various file-sharing sites - or wait for the inevitable pay-for-porn release - but you can do the digging yourself, perverts.

Just be careful not to give yourself a virus in the process.

So let's just try to move along and respect the poor woman's privacy and decency, shall we? And if you see Kyle and Kevin, tell them we miss them.

dana-white-peter-moore-ufc-ea-sports.jpgChronically outspoken UFC president Dana White says he's at war with EA Sports, developers of some of the most successful sports video games in history. But the video game behemoth is apparently taking the high road by avoiding any verbal sparring.

It all started about a year and a half ago when UFC allegedly approached EA Sports about the possibility of developing a game. It didn't happen. Then, EA rival THQ recently released "UFC Undisputed 2009," which White told the media has shipped more than 2 million copies since may.

EA Sports announced in a press release June 1 that "EA Sports MMA" -- ostensibly lined up to compete with "Undisputed" -- is in development, eyed for a 2010 release.

That didn't sit well with White, who MMAJunkie.com recently quoted as saying, "EA Sports told us, 'You're not a real sport.'" EA Sports wanted "nothing to do with" a mixed martial arts video game. "I'm at war with them right now," White said. "That's how I look at it."
I had a great uncle who was the editor of Pageant Magazine in the 1950s. I didn't know him; he died long before I was born. But I understand he was quite the proponent of participatory journalism.

It can be inferred, then, that my great uncle would have been a fan of a recent column by David Hyde of the Florida Sun-Sentinel.

Rather than simply write an article stating that Miami Dolphins running back Ricky Williams is working toward becoming a licensed masseur (and eventually wants to attend medical school), Mr. Hyde jumps on the table and lets Williams give him a massage.

It's not as weird as it sounds.

The article itself is actually an interesting read about one of the most fascinating athletes in professional sports today, and what he's doing to prepare himself for life after football. Unfortunately, Mr. Hyde reminds us why those of us who ended up in the print journalism profession should avoid being in front of the camera at all costs:
ichiro-stretches-all-star.JPGBoston Red Sox left fielder Jason Bay has had quite a month. He became an American citizen, found out he was an All-Star, met President Barack Obama and was the butt of an Ichiro joke.

Bay blogs for WEEI sports radio's Web site in Boston, and recently gave a recap of his All-Star weekend comings and goings.

Among them:

I run back in from the field to get sunglasses. Locker room completely empty except Ichiro stretching on the floor and his translator sitting on the chair beside him. Sow we make small talk, and I ask him where he lives in Seattle because I lived in the suburbs.

Well, I had barely got the last word out when Ichiro says something in Japanse. Then his translator turns to me, deadpanned and straight-faced and says, "I'm going to mess with your house." The way he said it was malicious, and Ichiro is on the floor dying laughing like it was the funniest thing ever. I was just like, "OK, I'll see you guys out there." I didn't know what to say. It was weird.

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Michael Jordan walks through a crowd during a practice round at Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course in Lake Tahoe, Nev., during the American Century Championship on Tuesday. (AP Photo)

Golf and gambling enthusiasts Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley will join Super Bowl trophy enthusiast Ben Roethlisberger and a host of other athletes in the 20th annual American Century Championship celebrity golf tournament, from Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course in Lake Tahoe this weekend.

More than 80 athletes and sundry entertainment celebs will compete on the links -- all to benefit the Lance Armstrong Foundation.

NBA star Shane Battier, NFL Head Coach Jack Del Rio, NFL offensive rookie of the year Matt Ryan and Hall of Fame shortstop Ozzie Smith will also make the trip to Tahoe.

Dan Hicks, Roger Maltbie, Gary Koch, Mark Rolfing, and Jimmy Roberts provide commentary for NBC.
barack-obama-mom-jeans.JPGFirst he was lambasted for calling the former stadium on the South Side "ComiNsky Field."

Then he was warned by Albert Pujols that he'd better not bounce the first pitch.

And now the talk about President Barack Obama's All-Star game appearance has turned to his unfortunate choice in the cut of his ... jeans.

Some are calling them dad jeans, some are calling them mom jeans. Either way, at least we're not being forced to consume real news here.

What's that, you say? CNN has deemed it real news?  Roll tape: 
richard-jefferson-kesha-nichols.jpgWe know this much is true: San Antonio's newest Spur, Richard Jefferson, called off his wedding via e-mail. But he did not -- as some organizations reported yesterday -- call off the wedding hours before it was to happen.

Jefferson made the radio rounds today, talking to Howard Stern and Dan Patrick to assure loyal listener's of both that he broke up with Kesha Ni'Cole Nichols after "a tense Fourth of July weekend," according to the New York Post. Their wedding was scheduled for July 11.

Before you go feeling to terrible for Nichols, you'll sleep easier tonight knowing that Jefferson, who told the Post Nichols is one of her best friends, is giving her a six-figure settlement.

From the Post:

Of the money he's giving Nichols, Jefferson said, "I'm not trying to buy her off. She has a lump sum to help her move on."

Unfortunately, there were also circulating rumors about Jefferson's sexuality, prompting him to tell the paper, "I'm not gay. That could be further from the truth."
jessica-white-terrell-owens.JPGReality television star and occasional Buffalo Bills wide receiver Terrell Owens has a new love interest.

Former Sports Illustrated swimsuit model Jessica White, who hails from Buffalo, has been spotted with T.O. in Los Angeles and upstate New York, according to a report in New York Post's Page 6.

A "spy" told the newspaper, "She's in the trailer for his new VH1 show, and they're always out together."
Whenever Erin Andrews does, well, anything, those with more than a passing interest in sports tend to take notice.

When she's hit in the face by an errant foul ball, it becomes TMZ fodder.

When she enters the Cubs clubhouse, it's a manufactured controversy.

And when she wears a dress to the ESPN ESPY Awards on or around the slowest sports news day of the year, it becomes the story of the day.

Sports Illustrated's HotClicks was the first to introduce us to the following image:

 
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FanIQ did a bit of solid research to bring you a comparison of Andrews' version of the dress compared with that of Heather Graham, Kristin Cavallari, Cheryl Burke, Heidi Montag and Doutzen Kroe. 

NCAA_Football_10_cover.jpgI was 12 years old when Bill Walsh College Football came out for the Sega Genesis. I was pretty certain then that the ability to run the option with an electronic facsimile of Garrison Hearst was the single greatest technological advancement of the 20th century.

As a teenager, EA Sports' NCAA Football became a late-summer tradition. Before you were able to snag team rosters online, I took great pleasure in learning about that year's crop of college talent by manually changing all the players' names in the game -- even the guys from Buffalo and Louisiana-Lafayette.

Now I'm staring down the barrel of 30 and I have no shame in telling you that I'm just as excited now about video game college football as I was when I was 12. I'm continually impressed year after year with how far the franchise has come, and how incredibly realistic it is. I think to myself, I deserve this. I've put in my time. I've suffered through choppy gameplay, so-so graphics (in retrospect, of course) and some entirely lame playbooks. Today, the playbooks are almost identical to those the real college teams run.
michael-jordan-scottie-pippen.jpgFormer Bulls great Scottie Pippen was on hand at a Gatorade event on the South Side this afternoon that commemorated Michael Jordan's upcoming induction into the Basketball Hall of Fame. Pippen, along with former Bulls center Bill Wennington and Olympian Jackie Joyner-Kersee helped build an enormous piece of street art constructed with 19,000 bottles of the new Limited Edition Jordan Series of Gatorade Thirst Quencher.

The piece will light up and be part of an upcoming add for the thirst-quenching giant that got that "Be Like Mike" song stuck in our heads permanently. Passerbys and the rush-hour commuters were privy to quite a scene as one former great paid homage to another at a neighborhood basketball court.

Pippen was gracious enough to take a few minutes to speak with us about the man all of the hubbub was about.
sean-marhsall-outfield.jpgIt was a move that literally came out of left field.

There was Cubs manager Lou Piniella, in what looked to be a very public call-out of left fielder Alfonso Soriano, replacing the struggling veteran in the field with pitcher Sean Marshall.

With the bases loaded and no one out in the ninth inning-- and before Marshall could throw a pitch to Cardinals shortstop Brendan Ryan -- Piniella strolled out of the dugout and sent the left-handed hurler out to left and Soriano out of the game. Aaron Heilman came on to relieve Marshall on the mound.

It was confusing. And uniquely exciting.

One can't blame home plate umpire Marvin Hudson for taking a little longer than usual to make sure of exactly what kind of double-switch the home team was pulling. For the sake of expedience, Piniella looked to write it down for him, taking the ump's cheat sheet and showing him he was serious about the switcheroo.

Disco sucks! Disco sucks! Disco sucks ...

It's perhaps fitting that on the weekend Steve Dahl announces a return to the airwaves we "celebrate" the 30th anniversary of Disco Demolition Night

The brainchild of the WLUP disc jockey Dahl and White Sox owner Bill Veeck's son Mike, the idea was to have a death to disco movement between games of a Detroit Tigers-Sox doubleheader at Comiskey Park in 1979, but it quickly turned into what amounted to a mob scene, culminating in a bonfire of disco records and a canceled game.

And here's a clip of the live broadcast when Dahl blowed up disco, real good ...

Dahl likes to take credit for hastening the death of disco through the riot scene, the flashpoint of a groundswell of anti-disco fervor creeping through the streets of middle America. It was a music morphing into other things by 1979 anyway, but the near-riot scene surrounding the event - and national attention it garnered - certainly left a lasting impression.

Ed Farmer, the current voice of the Sox on radio, was on the mound for Game 1 that infamous day for the below-mediocre South Siders and remembers the chaos bubbling to the surface even before the on-field mayhem began:

"I pitched [3 2/3] innings to finish the first game, and I would be throwing, getting the signs, and a 45 record would fly by the mound. Someone would toss it from the lower deck or the upper deck and it would fly through and on to the field right past you."

"You are talking about a famous moment in the city of Chicago. Things took place in that stadium that never happened before or after."

Ken Kravec, then a left-handed pitcher for the Sox and now a special assistant to Cubs General Manager Jim Hendry, remembers the night as the pitcher warming up to start a Game 2 that would not be played:

"One thing I recall, when I walked out to the bullpen mound to warm up for the second game and I was looking around the stadium, you couldn't see any aisles. I just remember the amount of people. There were like 10,000 or 15,000 people outside the stadium and another 50,000 inside the stadium, if not more."

"We went out there for about a minute. And then after that, the fans stormed the field. I never feared for my life, not at all. Once they came on the field, it was fine. I just grabbed my hat, walked off and nobody hassled you."

So for the admission price of 98 cents, Dahl and broadcast partner Gary Meier brought their anti-disco "The Insane Coho Lips" fans to shout to the world that "Disco sucks!" and put some butts in seats for a sub-.500 team. What they came away with was a place in Chicago and promotional history, a Veeck family name blacklisted for decades in Major League Baseball and scene that will never be repeated in major league sports.

Not bad for a half-time show.

What exactly was Dahl thinking going into his brush with destiny? Well, the man himself interviews himself for the Tribune, the only print chat he submitted to (must be the softball interviewer).

Still not sure about that anti-disco army uniform, though. Might not catch on.

While hanging out in a relaxed, post-work setting with iconic Sports Pros(e) co-founder Kyle Koster Friday night, taking in the Angels-Yankees tilt, we were treated to one of the finest plays either of us has ever seen a catcher make.

With 2 outs in the bottom of the 7th, Chone Figgins sends a popup behind the plate that Jorge Posada slides over to make a play on. But Figgins has an inexplicable bout of -off-balance clumsiness and tumbles into Posada as he tried to make the play, knocking the catcher's mitt off in the process.

No problem for the Yankees backstop, who simply sheds the glove in time to make a catch with his bare hands - well, one with a batting glove. But nonetheless, a great bit of concentration on Posada's part, though a bit hard to explain why he argues interference - it was - despite the fact it was the third out of the inning.

Anyway, you won't get Yankees props here often, so live it up.

Oh, and for an always-animated Rex Hudler version of the call, click here.

"There was no call by the umpire -- that's what bugged me the most," Posada said. "He didn't make a call at all. As soon as [Figgins] makes contact with me, it's obstruction. The ball is right on top of me."

Maybe Derek Jeter should get rid of his glove, too. (MLB.com)

A little while back, WGN sports anchor Pat Tomasulo was the subject of much Internet vitriol after his thunderous dunk on a toddler. Well, either the thunderous dunk or the subsequent trash talk that sent the youngster running back to his mother for comfort.

Amidst that firestorm, only one Chicago-based sports and pop culture blog run by two guys whose names start with "K" had the courage to stand up and come to Tomasulo's defense. He must have noticed, because this morning we got an e-mail from him tipping us of to this little gem that won't anger any rugrats, but may spark some trouble for cabbies.

Tomasulo. So edgy right now.

As someone who shares this pet peeve, I couldn't help but enjoy it. I think we're all at the point where we understand that you just raise your hand if you need to hail a cab. So why then all the honking?

 
Thumbnail image for erin-andrews.jpgThe New York Mets' Alex Cora almost cemented himself as the least-favorite baseball player in the males aging from 12-112 demographic when a foul ball off his bat hit ESPN sideline reporter Erin Andrews in the chin.

Andrews, who is responsible for most of, if not all, our site traffic was rushed to the hospital. But, before you wring your hands in nervousness and light any more candles in your Andrews-themed shrine, rest assured she is OK.

Deadspin just updated with a release from the Bristol-based sports and entertainment network:

"She's totally fine. The producers on site suggested she go to the hospital as a precaution. Doctors released her soon thereafter. She flew home as scheduled and is looking forward to working MLB All-Star events and the ESPYs in the coming week."
Let's all breathe a great, deep sigh of relief. We'd be lost without you, Erin. Totally.
chris-getz-white-sox.jpgDown by seven runs in the third inning and on the last getaway day of the season's first half, it would have been easy for the White Sox offense to pack it in. But, fueled by a career day from White Sox second baseman Chris Getz, they scraped and clawed their way back into the game before falling short in a 10-8 loss to the Cleveland Indians.

Getz collected a career-high four hits in the game and also reached base on a walk while driving in two runs and scoring another. Afterward, he was more than ready to talk about the competitive spark the Sox displayed -- despite the loss.

"We were down 9-2, there's probably teams that would have just packed it in," he said. "We kept on going at it. It just shows a lot that we had the courage to keep on fighting."
PX001_72B2_9.JPGDonte Stallworth, the Cleveland Browns wide receiver who plead guilty to DUI manslaughter in Miami, has been released from jail after serving 24 days of 30-day sentence.

The Associated Press is reporting that his attorney, Christopher Lyons, says Stallworth was released from the Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center early Friday.

Stallworth admitted that he was under the influence when he hit and killed 59-year-old Mario Reyes with his Bentley on Miami's MacArthur Causeway March 14. Stallworth's blood-alcohol level was over the legal limit and he had pot in his system.

Stallworth faces two years of house arrest and 10 years of probation as part of his sentence. He'll also have to perform 1,000 hours of community service and will never be able to drive again. 

Stallworth has been suspended indefinitely by the NFL. 

Was Stallworth's sentence a joke of justice taking, say, Michael Vick's dog-fighting sentence as an example? (poll)

Thumbnail image for bartolo-colon.jpgSome people really took the news of pop superstar Michael Jackson's passing hard. Rehabbing White Sox pitcher Bartolo Colon may be one of those individuals, according to the always affable Ozzie Guillen.

The Sun-Times' Chris De Luca reports:

Guillen joked that Colon -- known around the White Sox clubhouse for being a huge Michael Jackson fan -- might have been consumed in watching the memorial service for the pop star and skipped his scheduled flight to North Carolina.

"I think Colon disappeared," Guillen said. "I think immigration is looking for him. I worry about Colon because Colon was a big-time Michael Jackson fan. He might see the TV and cry all day long. He maybe is in L.A. at his funeral, because I can't find him.

"Nobody knows how big of a Michael Jackson fan Colon was. I'm serious. He might be depressed a little bit."

Jokes aside, the unknown whereabouts of Colon could become something of a non-laughing matter if the former Cy Young winner isn't at a specific place within 24 hours.

lenny-dykstra.jpgFormer major league center fielder and hustling enthusiast Lenny Dykstra has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

The filing, which was done on July 7, claims that Dykstra has no more than $50,000 in assets and between $10 and $50 million worth of liabilities.

I'm not a mathematician, but that doesn't sound like a good combination.

Dykstra hit .281 in a 12-year pro career, helping the New York Mets win the 1986 World Series and finished second in the 1993 National League MVP voting while with the Philadelphia Phillies.


lou-piniella-cubs-wrigley-field.jpgThe Cubs' 81st game of the season saw them score just one run on seven hits, an all-too accurate microcosm of a first half that has seen the offense struggle to find its bearings.

It also saw them lose 2-1, wasting a strong outing from a starting pitcher.

It's become a familiar refrain, this out of tune Cub offense.

Coming off a 97-win season, few would have predicted the ballclub would find itself near the bottom of the National League in the imperative hitting statistics. And manager Lou Piniella isn't happy about it.

"We've got to hit," he said. "Fifteenth in the league in runs scored isn't going to get it done. Period."

"We can mask this any way we want to mask it, but we've got to start scoring more runs more consistently to win baseball games."

Indiana University fans won't be too happy to hear this, but now Xavier transfer play Jordan Crawford apparently took LeBron James to the hole ... hard ... during James' skills camp this week.

Crawford, who transferred out of the Kelvin Sampson mess at IU in 2007 and is eligible to play for the Musketeers this season, is serving as a counselor for LeBron's Skills Academy in hometown Akron. Apparently the Xavier 6-4 guard was manning up in a little pick-up game against the 6-8 Cleveland Cavaliers star and jammed on him - two-handed and with authority, according to witnesses.

We'll have to take the withness account for it as LeBron apparently had a little chat with Nike Senior Basketball Director Lynn Merritt right after the dunk and Merrit talked to several courtside cameramen who suddenly were unable to post any video of the play.

Slam Online has a diary running from high school baller Dwight Powell, an attendee at the camp, who tells it like this:

The final thing that we had today was the college scrimmage. While we were still playing, they showed up and started warming up to hit the floor as soon as we finished.

They were split into teams, and LeBron had his own team. In all the college player's eyes, I could see a little fire burning, with all of them itching to show what they have against arguably the best player in the world. One player in particular definitely left their mark in Jordan Crawford of Xavier. On an inbounds play, The King was a step slow, and Crawford put a two-hand dunk on him.

I was shocked, but nothing will change my opinion of King James. Jordan Crawford on the other hand has some bounce!

No word on whether King James offered a handshake after the game.

laura-posada.jpgIf you've ever been watching Yankees catcher Jorge Posada or Phillies starting pitcher Cole Hamels and wondered what their home lives are all about, E! television will satisfy your needs tonight in the form of "True Hollywood Stroy: Baseball Wives."

The New York Daily News has an interview with Posada's better half, Laura, who is a law-school graduate and up-and-coming author.

"People think that just because you're married to a baseball player, that you're dumb, that you're a gold digger, that you're an ex-stripper," says Laura. "That's not the way it is. I still haven't met that one girl. Most of the girls that I know, that are baseball wives, are super sweet girls. They're successful in their own right. I really hope that after people see this show, they realize that there's a lot more than just what people think baseball wives are."
I'm not 100 percent sure that everyone had that preconceived notion, but apparently this show is here to dispel this school of thought.
Blue Jays Halladay Ba_Mill.jpg
(AP Photo)

He's considered by many to be among the premiere pitchers in the major leagues, and he may be trade bait.

Toronto Blue Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi has spoken to his ace, Roy Halladay, about the possibility that he might be traded this season.

"We're not inclined to move him," Ricciardi told ESPN's Buster Olney, "but we're going to see what's out there,"

Halladay has a no-trade clause, however, that limits where the Blue Jays could potentially send him.

Last year the big pre-trade deadline name was CC Sabathia, who went to the Milwaukee Brewers mid-season in exchange for outfielder Matt LaPorta, pitchers Zach Jackson, Rob Bryson, and Michael Brantley.

Was the deal worth it? Brewers fans certainly thought so at the end of the 2008 regular season when the team made the playoffs. LaPorta is the only one of that trade currently on the Indians' roster, and he's batting .190.

So, Chicago baseball fans - would you trust Jim Hendry and Kenny Williams to give up a truckload of the right prospects to see Roy Halladay wearing black or blue pinstripes?  Would you want them to?
He's usually the one being cheered at the Staples Center, but today it was Kobe Bryant doing the praising. He and Magic Johnson were among those who eulogizes Michael Jackson during the memorial ceremony. Kobe touched on MJ's humanitarian efforts while Magic shared an anecdote about Jackson's penchant for KFC:

nicole-bobek.jpgFigure skater Nicole Bobek, who won the 1995 U.S. figure skating title while under a two-year probation for a felony charge, was arraigned Monday in a New Jersey court for allegedly playing a vital part in a drug ring that distributed methamphetamine. She faces up to 10 years if convicted.

Bobek finished 17th at the 1998 Olympics in Nagano.

The Los Angeles Times has a rundown of Bobek's run-ins with the law and her ex-coaches, painting a sad portrait of one of the most talented skaters in the sport during the last 20 years.

She is currently being held on $200,000 bond.
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(Photo by Tom Cruze/Sun-Times)

Expect some sort of explanation Tuesday from former "Chips" star Erik Estrada.

After botching the lyrics to "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" in front of 40,042 people at Monday night's Cubs game, the Bella Vista, Ark. pitchman celebrated his 60th birthday by telling broadcasters Len Kasper and Bob Brenly during the seventh-inning interview, "I've seen my fair share of child pornography, and I want to do something about it."

Estrada then changed the topic to porn star Ron Jeremy.

There is an explanation. Estrada is part of an anti-internet pornography task force in Virginia. He's also a deputy sheriff in Bedford County, Va. where he fights internet crimes against children.

Estrada's passion for law enforcement may have started with "Chips," but it was cultivated on the 2007 reality show "Armed and Famous," which featured his attempt to become a reserve police officer in Muncie, Ind. along with La Toya Jackson, Jack Osbourne, Trish Stratus, and Jason "Wee Man" Acuña. As Estrada told Len & Bob, he didn't want to do the show originally, but his wife made him.

Granted, Estrada's heart and intentions are in the right place, but the mention of child porn during the seventh-inning interview with Len & Bob is ... well, unprecedented. 

Here's what people are saying about the situation on Twitter.

And, while it lasts ....

sam-fuld-2.jpgWith Aramis Ramirez, Reed Johnson and Angel Guzman all coming off the disabled list on the same day, you knew the Cubs were going to make some changes.

The changes were announced this afternoon and the hard-working Sam Fuld was optioned to Triple-A Iowa (along with reliever Kevin Hart) to make room for the returning veterans.

Not many players make the type of impression Fuld made in less than a week at Wrigley Field. There's no simple explanation as to why he became such a quick fan favorite, but he certainly won over a ton of Cubbie faithful hearts in his time here. Luckily for them, it seems Fuld will be back on the North Side before too long.
Thumbnail image for kobayashi-hair.jpgBecause we're on such a competitive eating high around here, and you still haven't had time to fully digest what a man eating 68 hot dogs in 10 minutes means for you, we now bring you a firsthand account of the gluttony at Coney Island on Independence Day.

Friend of the blog, chic fashionista and Elliott Lucca handbag designer Lauren Walsh is the proprietor of Undeclared Panache --your girlfriend's source for all things you are too much of a dude to understand (hair, style, clothes) -- and an astute observer of deviant hairstyles.

BY LAUREN WALSH

While most look forward to the 4th of July weekend for BBQs and fireworks, I have adopted the tradition of traveling to the great burough of Brooklyn, to the world-famous Coney Island,  to witness the gluttonous tradition that is Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating contest.

For three years I lived across the hall from the Sweet Corn eating champion Crazy Legs Conti and fourth-ranked eater, Tim "Eater X" Janus.  During that period I timed training sessions, made friends with other eaters on the circuit and took a general interest in this bazaar subculture.
in the wake of this weekend's tragic news about the death of former NFL quarterback Steve McNair, it seems there have been more questions than answers about the horrific event. As details came in, the story gets more and more bizarre, but certainly not any less sad.

Nashville police are now saying that McNair had been dating Sahel Kazemi, the woman who was found dead next to him, for a couple of months despite the fact that he is married. Authorities have ruled McNair's death as a homicide, but are not ruling on Kazemi's death as of yet.

TMZ posted photos of the couple parasailing they claim are from about three months ago.

steve-mcnair-sahel-kasemi.jpgThe Tennessean has wall-to-wall coverage on this developing story, one that seems to get more and more confusing by the moment. Police say it may be several days before they definitively determine exactly what happened.

In the meantime, we're left with impassioned statements from Kazemi's family that she was incapable of hurting anyone and a somewhat chilling quote that the 20-year-olds greatest aspiration was to be famous -- something she certainly is now.

Complete McNair coverage     (Tennessean)
rasheed-wallace-celtics.jpgRasheed Wallace is on his way to the Boston Celtics, according to a report from the Boston Herald.

The three-point shot and ball-telling-the-truth enthusiast has agreed to a two-year deal, which he can't sign officially until Wednesday.

Wallace averaged 12 points a game for the Detroit Pistons in a season that saw the franchise fall short of the Eastern Conference finals for the first time in seven years.

The North Carolina product was instrumental in the 2004 NBA championship, coming over mid-season in a deal that paired him with then-dominated Ben Wallace in the front court.

Because I'm begrudgingly tapped into the Pistons fan base, I can say that Wallace was a polarizing figure. It seemed everyone had a strong opinion about him. Some saw him as an energetic, versatile team leader while others thought his on-court theatrics were a detriment to the team.

Regardless of the differing opinions, his ability to defend in the post and hit the outside jumper should give the Celtics an added dimension to play off an already strong core of battle-tested veterans.
Thumbnail image for SORIANO.jpgThe rosters for the 80th All-Star Game, taking place July 14 at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, will be unveiled on TBS Sunday at 1 p.m. ET, but that's really just the beginning of the fun. Every year, there are deserving players left off the teams and some questionable nods given to players who probably don't deserve the honor.

Here are the latest leaders:

American League:
1B: Kevin Youklis, Red Sox
2B: Ian Kinsler, Rangers
3B: Evan Longoria, Rays
SS: Derek Jeter, Yankees
C: Joe Mauer, Twins
OF: Jason Bay, Red Sox; Ichiro Suzuki, Mariners; Josh Hamilton, Rangers

National League:
1B: Albert Pujols, Cardinals
2B: Chase Utley, Phillies
3B: David Wright, Mets
SS: Hanley Ramirez, Marlins
C: Yadier Molina, Cardinals
OF: Raul Ibanez, Phillies; Ryan Braun, Brewers; Carlos Beltran, Mets
tiger-woods.jpgShooting-under-par and domination enthusiast Tiger Woods teed off against the New York Yankees and the eye-popping ticket prices at the new Yankee Stadium Friday, saying that he doesn't want golf to be accessible to only the financially fortunate.

"We don't want to have what happened at Yankee Stadium," Woods said. "Tickets are so overpriced that you can't bring the family. We want to have everyone come out and enjoy being in a family atmosphere, walk around, have a good time and not have it cost an arm and a leg."

Add: "Champion of the common fan" to his already full mantle.

Tiger Woods calls foul on Yankees for cost of seats at new Stadium   (NY Daily News)
lou-gehrig-speech-als.JPGAs sports fans, we've become accustomed to a franchise retiring a player's number when that athlete has a profound impact on the organization and their city as a whole. Visit any stadium or arena around this country and you'll seen these tributes proudly displayed in the form of monuments, shrines or banners hanging from the rafters.

It wasn't always like this.

Lou Gehrig, the incomparable Yankees slugger who set the benchmark for durability while turning in a Hall of Fame career, was the first to have his number permanently retired by his team.
Steve McNair Football_Mill.jpg THE LATEST FROM THE ASSOCIATED PRESS:


NASHVILLE, Tenn. Ñ Police were working Sunday to unravel the relationship between slain former NFL quarterback Steve McNair and his friend, a 20-year-old woman who was found shot to death alongside him in his downtown condominium.

McNair, who led the famous Tennessee TitansÕ drive that came a yard short of forcing overtime in the 2000 Super Bowl, was found dead on a sofa in the living room Saturday with multiple gunshot wounds, including one to the head. His friend, Sahel Kazemi, was very close to him on the floor, killed by a single gunshot. A pistol was discovered near her, but police said it took a while to find the firearm.

hedo-turkoglu-wife.jpg
(Image from playerwives.com)

Hedo Turkoglu, who helped lead the Orlando Magic to its first appearance in the NBA Finals since 1995, shocked anyone who's paying attention to the NBA over the holiday weekend when he agreed to a deal with the Toronto Raptors instead of the Portland Trailblazers.

By all accounts, it wasn't the length of the contract being offered, it wasn't the money and it wasn't the team itself that made Turkoglu balk at Portland's offer. So, what was it?

During these times when we seek NBA wisdom, we begrudgingly turn to ESPN reporter Ric Bucher's Twitter feed, where he writes, "Toronto's shot at getting Hedo: apparently his wife loves the city. Any (happily) married man can tell you how much weight that carries."

And it's not just the spouse he's thinking about. Turkoglu and his wife,
Banu, had a baby girl in February. Living in Portland puts the family an extra five hours away from Turkey.

So, let this be a lesson to any team hoping to sign Hedo Turkoglu in the future: If you really want Hedo, you'll move your team as close to Turkey as humanly possible.

But fear not, Trail Blazer fan. As Oregonian reporter Jason Quick informs us, "
Thirty minutes after Turkoglu rejected the offer, the Blazers were back on the phone lines."

Any thoughts as to what they were up to druing those 30 minutes of in-between time?

Hot Dog Contest_Newm.jpgJoey Chestnut is an American hero on a day made for celebrating American heroes.

As the red, white and blue drapes itself across our national canvas, Chestnut stepped to the plate with pride on the line against a champion from Japan and defended his and our honor in record fashion - by eating 68 hot dogs (and buns) in 10 minutes.

Reigning champ Chestnut has logged his third consecutive win in Coney Island's annual Nathan's Famous International Hot Dog Eating Contest and archrival and six-time titleholder Takeru Kobayashi, in Saturday's bout. Chestnut led throughout the contest.

Last year's event initially ended in a tie, with Chestnut and Kobayashi both gobbling down 59 hot dogs and buns in 10 minutes. Chestnut went on to win a dramatic five hot dog eat-off.

This year there would be no drama, no question from the start as the San Jose native and competitive eating god popped franks like fireworks.

While there were pretenders to the throne, like Crazy Legs Conti, and even a herd of hungry pachyderms ready to pack in tons of buns, the star-spangled glory rest in the belly of Joey Chestnut tonight.

Well done, champion. Well done.

Who is Joey Chestnut, American hero? (Forbes)

More Joey Chestnut video goodness after the jump ...

Heavily courted free agent Hedo Turkoglu has apparently backed out of his commitment to the Portland Trail Blazers and intends on signing with the Toronto Raptors, a source told Yahoo! Sports.

Turkoglu, who shined for the Orlando Magic during the NBA playoffs, had agreed to a five-year, $50 million deal with Portland but has broken off talks with the franchise.

A source says Turkoglu's wife wanted badly to live in Toronto, a far more European-style city, and that's where it appears the Turkish native is headed. The Raptors have embraced the Euro game under GM Bryan Colangelo, building a roster that includes Euro talents Jose Calderon and Andrea Bargnani.
Source: Turkoglu changes mind on Blazers    (Yahoo!)
elephants-humans-eating-contest.JPGBecause we live in America --and more importantly -- because someone signed off on the whole idea, three elephants were pitted against three human beings in a bun-eating competition today at Brooklyn's Coney Island.

As you'd expect, the elephants crushed their competition, collectively eating 505 hot dog buns in six minutes compared to a palty 143 total racked up by the homo sapiens.

While this event lacks the gravitas of tomorrow's human vs. human competition, it did make for some compelling, if not slightly awkward footage on the local news.

A cursory tale of the tape seems to suggest that this wasn't really a fair fight at all.

Ringling Bros. Animal Stewardship Director Janice Aria says the elephants enjoy bread and can eat a foot-long loaf in 1.6 seconds.

Organizers say the humans weighed about 500 pounds combined, the Asian elephants about 9 tons combined.
Elephants outdo humans in NYC bun-eating contest     (AP)
stephen-strasburg-scott-boras.jpgAgent to the stars Scott Boras is at it again.

The high-profile representative who has a long history of creative maneuvering when it comes to the MLB draft, is floating the possibility that wunderkind and top overall pick Stephen Strasburg could play professionally in Japan if he's not paid in line with what Boras thinks he's worth.

His asking price is believed to be around $50 million -- as opposed to within the parameters of the current system, in which no player has ever received more than $10.5 million.

Even before talks began with the Washington Nationals, who made Strasburg the first overall pick June 9, Boras was dropping hints privately that he is preparing to explore a new frontier in his ongoing draft-busting crusade: Japan.

Such a ploy, were Boras to go in that direction, could involve a variety of issues, from the complex relationship between Major League Baseball and Japan's Nippon Professional Baseball, the residency requirements of both countries and, of course, the Major League Rules.

The Washington Post article examines some of the gray areas of the rule book that are being tested by Boras and Major League Baseball's reaction to it. Definitly a worthwhile read if you're interested in baseball and law and money and international intrigue -- which I think deep down, we all are.

Boras May Explore Japan for Strasburg     (Washington Post)


crazy-legs-conti-hot-dog.jpgCompetitive eater Crazy Legs Conti is talking to me about complexities surrounding the sports. He's telling me how heat and humidity can cause a hot dog frank to expand and contract. He's describing how not everyone's mandibles work in the same way and comparing the competitive eating circuit to Jack Kerouac's "On the Road."

He's telling me about how there are spots open to amateurs at any of the events sponsored by the International Federation of Competitive Eating. And I'm beginning to think that this face-stuffing jamboree is something I could do.

Then, he starts throwing otherworldly numbers out there that bringing me back to Earth.
diana-taurasi-dui.jpgSay what you want about the WNBA, but it's uniquely absent of high-profile cases of its athletes becoming embroiled in legal troubles.

Well, usually.

Phoenix Mercury guard and UCONN great Diana Taurasi was cited for drunk driving early this morning, just hours after her team took it to the Seattle Storm.

Phoenix police spokesman Luis Samudio says an officer stopped Taurasi at about 2:30 Thursday morning for allegedly speeding. A police statement says the officer smelled alcohol and gave her several field sobriety tests.

Taurasi was then driven to a mobile DUI van where she gave a blood sample, then was cited and released. Authorities did not know her blood alcohol content.

Taurasi is the leading vote-getter in WNBA All-Star voting.

Phoenix police: Mercury's Taurasi cited for DUI     (AP)

david-beckham-landon-donovan.jpg
(AP Photo)


Landon Donovan, who captained the United States men's national soccer team to a respectable finish in the Confederations Cup, is lashing out at his LA Galexy teammate David Beckham.

In a new book titled "The Beckham Experiement" Donovan calls out Beckham, who has been on a five-month loan with AC Milan, for what he sees as lack of commitment.
sam-fuld-cubs.jpgSam Fuld was right in the middle of the Cubs' offensive attack on Thursday night. (AP)

Cub manager Lou Piniella's decision to give left fielder Alfonso Soriano a rest for the second straight night may have raised a few eyebrows before Thursday's game, but the man who replaced him in the order may have raised even more with his stellar play.

Sam Fuld, the 27-year-old outfielder who collected his first two major-league hits on Wednesday night, kick-started the Cubs offense on Thursday by working a nine-pitch walk off of Milwaukee Brewers starting pitcher Seth McClung. Ryan Theriot followed with a single and Derrek Lee and Jake Fox each connected on tape-measure home runs to the left-field bleachers, giving the hosts quick 4-0 lead in the first of four crucial games at home against NL Central leaders.

"It's pretty simple," Fuld said before the game when asked about his role as leadoff hitter. "Get on base. I'm not trying to hit too many home runs. I just try to set the table for the middle of the order and [get on base] however I can."
cubs-gm-jim-hendry.JPGThe up and down 2009 season has certainly taken its toll on Cubs fans, but Jim Hendry remains the duck that appears to swim gracefully above water while paddling like hell beneath the surface.

The Cubs general manager talked to reporters before Thursday night's game, and remained steadfast in his role as eternal optimist heading into this pivotal homestand. Hendry brushed off the thought of any criticism fans might have of the job he's done or the team's sub-.500 showing so far this season.

"I spent most of my life in baseball and you take the good with the bad," said Hendry. "I've heard a lot of great things said about me and written that I didn't quite believe."

That said, Henry also admitted that if things aren't going well on the field, any criticism "ought to start with me."
calvin-pace.jpgNew York Jets linebacker Calvin Pace has been suspended four games by the NFL for violating the NFL Policy on Performing Enhancing Substances.

Pace is still eligible to practice with his teammates and play in pre-season games, but won't be allowed to play in a regular-season game until after Oct. 4.

The 6-foot-4, 270 pounder racked up a career-high seven sacks last season and had this to say about his current situation:

"This is a situation that resulted from an over-the-counter dietary supplement that contained a substance that I did not know violated the league's policy," Pace said in a statement.  "I am responsible for what I put into my body and I should have paid closer attention to the league's guidelines. I regret that this has happened and apologize to my teammates, the entire Jets organization as well as the fans. Hopefully, this does not distract from our ultimate goal of winning the Super Bowl."
NFL Suspends LB Calvin Pace for 4 Games    (New York Jets)
33841401H13330665.JPG
(AP Photo)

Shaquille O'Neal, the man whose shoulders now share the weight of the Cleveland Cavaliers championship hopes, was introduced as the team's newest member Thursday. By all accounts, it was not your average, boring presser.

O'Neal unveiled his "Win a ring for the King" motto for this season and even brought a visual aid with him -- proof that he and general manager Danny Ferry are previously acquainted:



If today's press conference is any indication, it promises to be an extremely entertaining tenure in Cleveland for the big man.

Shaquille O'Neal hints that his fun with the Cleveland Cavaliers could last beyond the 2009-10 season [Cleveland Plain Dealer]
Toronto Argonauts coach Bart Andrus told wide receiver Arland Bruce's before the season that once he got into the end zone, he didn't care what the former Minnesota Gopher did.

He's probably regretting that decision right about now.

From the Toronto Star:

After scoring on a 21-yard pass from Kerry Joseph to put Toronto ahead 6-0, Bruce removed his helmet, shoulder pads and uniform top and laid down in the end zone. Bruce said he was simply honouring the memory of Michael Jackson by pretending to be buried.

And here's the video proof:



And note at the end of the clip an appearance by friend of the blog Jarrett Payton, son of Walter, who's playing running back and apparently kicking for the Argos this season.

Bruce was assessed two objectionable conduct penalties -- which I believe is Canadian for unsportsmanlike conduct. The CFL is reviewing the TD celebration.

Andrus told the Canadian Press after the game: "I think next time around he will celebrate in an appropriate manner."
jim-leyritz-yankees.jpgFormer Yankees player Jim Leyritz is again in trouble with the law, this time for allegedly punching his ex-wife.

Leyritz has been charged with domestic battery after police responded to his Davie home early this morning after receiving reports he had allegedly battered ex-wife Karrie, according to a police report from the Broward County Sheriff's Office.

According to the report, Leyritz attacked Karrie after the two had a dispute over money related to child support.

Leyritz denies attacking his ex-wife, instead claiming that she intentionally injured herself to blame it on him.

The former utility man is awaiting trial on DUI manslaughter charges stemming from a fatal 2007 crash in downtown Fort Lauderdale.

Ex-Yankees Slugger Allegedly Takes Swing at Ex-Wife     (NBC Miami)

ben-gordon-bulls-pistons.JPGWith the acquisition of former Bulls guard Ben Gordon and his UConn teammate Charlie Villanueva, there's a bit of optimism growing in Pistonville.

At least one Detroit journalist thinks Gordon is among the pieces needed for the franchise to return to championship form. Free Press columnist Michael Rosenberg writes: "Their arrivals put the Pistons back in the upper echelon of the Eastern Conference, and they allow Dumars to keep maneuvering until he has all the right pieces. Remember, he didn't add the final starter on the 2004 champs, Rasheed Wallace, until February of that season."

Detroit News journalist Chris McCosky praised Gordon as well: "But in Gordon, 26, they have a bona fide scorer, one who can get his shot off anytime, anywhere and one completely unafraid to take big shots in big spots. He silenced all critics with his performance in the playoffs last season (24 ppg)."

If anything, Gordon's performance in the playoffs exposed his greatest weakness and showed him to be -- as another former Chicago athlete was described -- a mental midget.
Donte' Stallworth, who is currently serving his 30-day sentence for DUI manslaughter, apparently also tested positive for marijuana use after the crash that killed Mario Reyes in March 14.

The wide receiver's blood-alcohol level was .126, well above the legal limit.

Stallworth's test results, which have yet to be released, showed traces of marijuana, according to sources with knowledge of the results.

In 2007, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported that Stallworth was in the NFL's substance abuse program for an unspecified reason.

Donte' Stallworth had marijuana in blood, sources say    (Miami Herald)

bruno-football-team.jpgIt seems that everywhere comedian Sacha Baron Cohen goes, controversy soon follows. The latest episode finds a Los Angeles football coach and principal being disciplined after allowing Cohen to pose for photos that appear in GQ magazine with the school's football team.

Los Angeles Unified School District Supt. Ramon C. Cortines has been incensed by a photo shoot of Cohen, in his role as gay Austrian fashionista "Bruno," that appeared in the latest issue of GQ magazine and on its website. It showed the scantily clad comedian in poses with the Birmingham football team, including one on top of a player on the ground.

"I don't believe that there is a place on any high school in America, including Los Angeles, for photos such as these," Cortines said in a news release issued by his office.

Cohen, perhaps best known for his portrayal of the wide-eyed Kazakhstan hero Borat, is hoping for similar success with his Bruno character.  Bruno already caused a stir at the MTV Movie Awards when Cohen's bare buttocks descended on rapper Eminem in pre-planned stunt.

 


Dwight Howard has often been described as a big kid -- a really big kid.

This has been confirmed once again on the Orlando Magic big man's Twitter page, where he's been pontificating this morning about a certain bodily function:


dwight-howard-twitter-1.jpgThumbnail image for dwight-howard-1.jpg
Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey -- faced with the unenviable task of replacing Yao Ming -- has taken to Twitter to ask fans to help him land a formidable replacement.

Or ... any port in a storm.

Here's a Morey Twitter post from last night:

daryl-morey-twitter.jpg
Morey apparently made his pitch to Gortat just after the free agent signing period started.

The Rockets even made post-modern come hither eyes at Gortat. So, will this become a new trend? Will the NBA's wooing of top -- or even average -- free agents start looking more like the college recruiting process?

There's no word yet whether Morey's intricate free agent recruitment dance has worked. We'll keep you posted on where Gortat and his Air Jordan calf tat end up.

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