29 August 2007

The Rawlings Primo - The Most Expensive Baseball Glove Ever Made

Yogi Berra once said that "there's nothing more personal than your own baseball glove," and Rawlings is hoping to capitalize on that sentiment with its new glove, the Primo.

Rawlings has introduced the Primo as the culmination of 120 years worth of making gloves. It's taken two years to develop the glove, which features hand-sewn Italian leather forming an innovative three-layer design. Its maker claims it can be broken in to cater to specific positions.

The supposed best glove ever made is also the most expensive glove ever. It costs $400, or, more than what many people make in a week. The initial challenge for Rawlings isn't getting the gloves off the shelves, but onto the hands of major league stars.

High-wattage Rawlings clients - among them Derek Jeter and A-Rod of the New York Yankees, Jose Reyes of the crosstown Mets and Albert Pujols of the St. Louis Cardinals - all have so far declined to use the Primo in games, despite its apparently superior design. San Diego Padres shortstop Khalil Greene has one in his locker but to date has not switched.

The Primo so far has found love only from the Padres' Jake Peavy, the San Francisco Giants' Barry Zito, and the Seattle Mariners' Horacio Ramirez. All of them are pitchers, who are traditionally the least attached to their gloves.
The bond between player and glove is a delicate, intimate connection. Like talking to a pitcher while he's in the midst of a perfect game, gloves bring about many superstitions. Many won't let others touch them, and gloves are often differentiated between practice and game use. So the battle to get players to switch is undoubtedly an uphill battle.
Ted Sizemore, a former Dodger who is now Rawlings's chief liaison with MLB players, is doing his best to address this. One of his tactics is to persuade minor-league prospects, not yet set in their ways, to wear the Primo during spring training. "You get them to like the color and the feel and the weight of the glove," he says. "A few start using it, and word of mouth spreads."

But as a former player, Sizemore understands the Sisyphean nature of his task. "It's very hard to get a player to change from something he really loves," he says.
It's interesting that the challenge is to get the big leaguers to switch, not the kids and fans who emulate them. The sticker price doesn't seem to be an issue for the parents and amateur players, who as the competition grows leans upon better supposed equipment to succeed. And it isn't the issue for the players either, as they get them for free. It's the comfort factor, stupid.
Rawlings, in other words, has come up with the most lavish glove ever but has yet to persuade any everyday players to use it. Some have grumbled that it is too heavy; others just think it's bad karma to switch.
If Rawlings and Sizemore are up to the challenge, they'll have Primo's on their star players next spring training. And if they can succeed with the Primo, then we can only imagine the price of the next great "best glove ever."

Next Time You Might Want To Sprint Without That Diamond Broach

Sprinters are always looking for the upper hand, and increasing speed usually means sleeker, lighter outfits. It doesn't typically include $20,000 diamond broaches. Sprinter Sanya Richards was likely the only person in the race wearing a $20,000 diamond broach, and she's certainly the only one who almost lost it.

"I'm coming off the turn, it clinks off my knee and it goes over to lane eight," Richards explained. "And I'm looking like: "No.' But I have to be focused and finish the race."
Luckily for Richards, volunteers rushed to the track to recover the jewelry, which was given as a gift from one of her sponsors.
"He told me it was my good luck charm. So I thought: 'Run with it,' which wasn't a good idea."
Thankfully the diamond broach has been retired from international (and hopefully all) competition. She's given it to her mother for safekeeping. While the diamond may look good on an evening dress, it certainly doesn't belong on the track. To prove the point Richards clocked in at the fastest time in the second heat she ran on Wednesday - sans the broach.

Richards hopes to make it to Beijing next summer, and she obviously won't let a little diamond problem get in her way.
"I know what my goals are when I step on the track, so nothing was going to distract me -- even if $20,000 just fell off of my chest."

28 August 2007

Olympic Athletes Prepare For Beijing's Pollution

With a year to go until the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics, athletes are taking their training to the next level, and preparing all they can to bring home a medal. As prepared as they may be, there's one element to the Beijing games that they can't train for. Pollution.

Beijing is heavily polluted. Air pollution levels in the city are almost five times higher than the World Health Organization's recommended safety level. The city is a mess - pollutants such as ozone, nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter are constants, while sulfate and carbon regularly float in the air.

The air pollution is a problem for all involved, but it's also a tricky matter for the athletes coming for the games. Do they stay away as long as possible, or should they come in early and get used to it?

"We know how to train for heat and humidity, but not a lot of research has been done on running in the polluted atmosphere we think we'll find in Beijing," Kyle O'Brien, an American marathoner who ran at the track and field world championship in Osaka, said Tuesday.
Chinese officials are doing their part to rid the city of the pollution, spending billions to close factories and build subways. Other countries are taking measures of their own to protect their athletes. Australia is planning to send a medical team of 80 to the games, which comes to about one doctor per 6 athletes. Others are just making do. Masaaki Sugita, an exercise physiologist with Japan's athletics governing body was in Beijing earlier this month, and witnessed archers wearing masks at one event.

Chinese officials have a pollution problem, but it shouldn't just be about the Olympic games. While they're scurrying to make things better for their international guests, shouldn't they have done this years ago? The Olympians will come and go, but its their own citizens that are truly suffering from the pollution. The athletes may be the ones complaining, but perhaps someone should stand up for those without a voice too. The Chinese people.

26 August 2007

It's More Than An Error Per Inning For The Syracuse Chiefs

The Syracuse Chiefs played a historic game on Sunday night, but it was for all the wrong reasons. In Baseball you can't take your eye off the ball, but on Sunday, you had to wonder whether or not the Chiefs ever had their eyes on the ball.

The Toronto Blue Jays' AAA affiliate committed 10 errors during Sunday's game, equaling the most in the International League in 43 years. Fittingly, Syracuse fell to Ottawa 12-10 in 10 innings.

"We're embarrassed. Our players are embarrassed. There's nothing you can say after a game like this," Syracuse manager Doug Davis said.
First baseman Chad Mottola lead the team with four errors. While he's played 51 games in the major leagues, he'd yet to make an error in the show. Mottola was seconded by third baseman John Hattig, who committed three errors.

Perhaps what's most amazing is not the 10 errors, but the fact that they only led to two earned runs. It's late in the season for AAA, and players are either eying a September call-up or upcoming offseason. But 10 errors? That's just incredible!

"Normal" Dorm Rooms Not Good Enough For Trojan Football Players

USC may be ranked as the overwhelming number one team in the pre-season polls, but all has not been well for the Trojans. First, some star players like Emmanuel Moody have left the program, realizing that it's only possible to play 11 All-Americans on the field at a time. But there was a bigger test facing the team this week, and it was serious. The incoming Freshman class didn't like the dorm rooms assigned to them.

It used to be that the Freshman players were allowed to live in Cardinal Gardens complex, a university-owned apartment building. But a few too many players were arrested while living there, so the effort was made this year to integrate the new students with the rest of their slightly less athletic peers. Their hope was that the players would have some semblance of a normal student life. It was a rude awakening, as they quickly learned that normal life maybe wasn't what they really wanted.

Several freshmen balked at their campus dorm assignments, unhappy with the new living arrangements for first-year players.

"A lot of guys were mad because there was no air (conditioning) and the room was small," tailback Marc Tyler said.

After complaining to administrators, Tyler, tailback Joe McKnight, wide receiver Brandon Carswell and defensive end Trey Henderson were among those moved into a better dorm.

"It's a lot more comfortable," Tyler said. "Everybody is happy now."

That's some normal life, I guess. I can only imagine that the pre-med student or whoever Tyler was sharing a room with got the same traction with their adviser that he did upon complaining. The advice was probably something more like - "go buy a fan." The USC athletic department may been trying to bridge the gap between athletes and non-athletes, but their reactions to the complaints only showed the huge gap that lays between them. The Trojans have no excuse to lose now - they can't blame it on being overheated.

25 August 2007

Out With The Goal Judges, In With The Luxury Seats!

The NHL instituted video replay during the 1991-92 season, and the idea behind it was to help referees to better determine whether a goal had been scored. Now, all these years later the technology has improved to such a point that it has rendered part of the officiating staff obsolete. Say goodbye to the goal judges.

You know the goal judges. They're the ones who sit behind directly behind the goals. But they're now done. The league announced that the goal judges will be moved to the press box or another location this season.

Hockey purists might decry the change, but the teams must be smiling. Taking away the goal judges means more seats to sell. More premium seats, that is.

The Flyers, like many clubs, are about to capitalize financially on the relocation by converting the goal judges' boxes into luxury seating.

Work crews have redesigned the boxes at the Wachovia Center into 12 "goal judge seats" that consist of two rows of three seats behind each goal.
The seats in question will be made of leather, and will be deeper than other seats in the arena. They'll also have waiter service. If you're hoping to get your hands on these seats, think again. They'll cost a pretty penny.
The seats are packaged with the lease of a suite for both Flyers and Sixers games. A midlevel suite and six goal-judge seats would cost $225,000, according to Shawn Tilger, vice president of marketing and communications for the Flyers.
Tilger added that should the suites not sell, the seats would be offered to the general public. So Flyers fans, start working your corporate connections now. And then get in line for the seats. You'll be happy with your new corporate connections either way.

23 August 2007

All In The Family: Lopez Clan Hopes To Send Three To Beijing


Talk about sibling rivalries! Meet the Lopez family from Sugar Land, Texas. The Lopez's are trying to become just the second trio of siblings to be on the same Summer Olympic squad.

Mark Lopez, 25 won the men's bantam/featherweight taekwondo final on Thursday at the U.S. Olympic team trials. His win placed him into the World Olympic Qualification tournament in Manchester, England next month. A top-three finish would place him on the 2008 squad.

Mark's siblings aren't far behind him. Brother Steven, 28, is a two-time Olympic gold medalist and four time champion in the combined light/welterweight division. The last time he lost a match? 2000. Then there's sister Diana, 23. She's battling for the long spot in the women's bantam/feather division on Friday.

If all three earn the right to represent the United States at next year's Beijing Games, it will mark the first time that three siblings will represent the U.S. team in the same summer sport since 1904, when brothers Edward, Richard and William Tritschler competed in men's gymnastics, though none won any medals.

Martial arts really runs through the family. All three siblings are coached by older brother Jean, who is also the national team coach. Could this be a competitive family? Are Steven and Diana feeling the pressure? Brother Mark has some thoughts, that's for sure.

"Their chances are really good," Mark Lopez said. "They are the reigning world champions and this will be a big stepping stone for them. They just need to go out and do their jobs. They cannot take anything for granted."

That's right. No pressure at all.

22 August 2007

Purdue Assistant Writes Paper For Player, Shows Just How To Land Your School On Probation

The Purdue University Women's Basketball team was placed on probation for two years on Wednesday after a former assistant coach was found writing a paper for a player and made over 100 impermissible recruiting calls. While the team will not face a post season ban, the Lady Boilermakers will lose three scholarships.

Former Purdue assistant Katrina Merriweather has admitted to typing and revising a paper for guard Cherelle George during the 2005-2006 season. Sociology 220 must have been harder for George than she'd expected. Witness the following email exchange between the two:

10/26/05, 4:45 PM Merriweather to George: Here are some thoughts that should help. Make sure you read it and add your own info from class notes or any textbooks you use. All of my info is from the internet and what I remember...

10/26/05, 10:16 PM
Merriweather to George: Throw away the other one. This one is better and more organized....

11/29/05, 2:43 AM
Merriweather to George: Hey, you still have to do the title page and the reference page. I have attached everything you need to do those (two) things. Make sure you reread the paper and make it sound like you.
Finally, take a look at this instant-message exchange, one that the NCAA Infractions Committee called its "smoking gun."
Merriweather: Hey Girl! I will be finished around 9 p.m...I did most of it over because I wasn't sure if the social issue had to be national or if it could be local.

George:
Stop cakin' and finish the paper...dang!


Merriweather:
So, I'm changing it so it will all be national.
It's no surprise that this sort of violations occur in the world of college sports. But these excerpts are remarkable in that they've been able to get such solid proof of it happening. And to think that if this happened in Women's Basketball, I can only imagine the extents and the fraud that goes on in Men's Basketball and Football. This is the kind of stuff that can take down a program, and with email, IM and more out there, it's only a matter of time before more of this comes out.

21 August 2007

A look back at one of the great trades of all-time

Butler

Somewhere, in the afterlife, if you believe in such things, John Butler is smiling.

That’s because he made the best trade in pro sports history.

The trade didn’t involve Babe Ruth or Lou Brock, who were sold for basically nothing and turned into Hall of Famers, but Michael Vick and LaDanian Tomlinson.

People may forget that it was the San Diego Chargers, coming off a 1-15 season, that had the first pick in the 2001 draft right after Vick led Virginia Tech to the national title game against Florida State. Not only was Vick regarded as the No. 1 pick of the draft, he was viewed as a once in a generation player, a player who could change the game.

Butler, who built the Buffalo Bills teams of the early 1990s and went onto San Diego before dying of cancer in 2003, however, was weary of signing a top pick with top pick money at quarterback right after the disastrous pick of Ryan Leaf by the Chargers in 1998. So Butler, after being unable to come to terms with Vick before the end of the draft, made the shocking move of trading an instant superstar and got a player he was very high on, Tomlinson along with a third-rounder that year, a second-rounder the following year, and Tim Dwight.

The move was compared by some to the Colts giving away John Elway or the Blazers passing on Michael Jordan. Others called in a smart move. Even until about a year ago, it was a highly debatable topic.

Guess who is smiling now.

You have to wonder how things would be different if the Chargers had picked Vick. Would the Falcons have ridden LT and Matt Schaub (who the Falcons gave away this spring) to a Super Bowl last season? Would the Chargers have ever made the playoffs in a hyper-competitive AFC?

But one thing you can’t wonder is how smart the LT-Vick trade ended up being for San Diego regardless of Vick’s issues. Vick never really became the elite NFL player people thought he would become, while Tomlinson would likely make the Hall of Fame even if he quit tomorrow.

The sun is a little brighter today in San Diego, if that was possible, and a little darker in Atlanta because of John Butler. Who would have thought that?

20 August 2007

Blind Golfer Does Something You Can't - She Hit A Hole-In-One

Summer is in its waning days, and golfers nationwide have used the summer months to take to the golf course. While you may have lowered your handicap recently, Sheila Drummond has done something recently that you probably haven't. She hit a hole-in-one. Not impressed yet? Did I mention that she's blind?

Playing with her husband and coach, Keith, and two friends in a steady rain, the 53-year-old Drummond hit a driver on the hole. The shot cleared a water hazard, flew between traps and landed on the green, where it hit the flagstick before dropping into the hole.

"They were saying, 'It's a great shot,' and then I heard it hit the pin," Drummond said.
Drummond was blinded by diabetes three decades ago, but she hasn't let her blindness deter her from playing golf. She took up the sport about 15 years ago, and became the first female member of the United States Blind Golfers Association. Drummond is now a member of the USBGA's board of directors.

The USBGA believes that Drummond is the first totally blind female to ever record a hole-in-one. But golfers out there shouldn't feel too badly if they have yet to record one of their own. Golf Digest has said that the odds of an amateur hitting a hole-in-one is quite slim. 1 in 12,750 slim. Now imagine what that would be for a blind player. There's no doubt that Drummond and her 48 handicap will be back out there soon, hoping to beat the odds once again.

19 August 2007

Red Sox Building No-So-Evil Empire Of Their Own

Larry Lucchino may have dubbed the New York Yankees "the evil empire" a few years back, but the inequalities between the two teams aren't as great as they once were. In fact, since the Henry/Lucchino/Werner group came aboard in 2001, they've done more than alright. While everyone knows they won the World Series in 2004, they've also sold out every game since May 15, 2003. More impressively, according the Forbes magazine the value of the team alone has doubled since 2002. You'd think that with this success the team would be ok. But with the luxury tax forcing the big market teams to give away chunks of money to the smaller teams, they've needed to look outside the box in order to further grow their empire.

And with that the Fenway Sports Group was founded. FSG's mandate was to look for new business opportunities throughout the worlds of sports and entertainment.

"Baseball's always going to be our core business, but it's a mature business. It's going to be harder to squeeze more juice from the orange," said Mike Dee, who has a dual role as the Red Sox chief operating officer and the president of Fenway Sports Group. "I tell people, 'I spend 80 percent of my time with the Red Sox, and the other 80 percent of my time with the Fenway Sports Group."'
It begain with FanFoto, which sent photographers into the stands at Fenway who later sold the photos online. It's been expanded into nine other major league parks, and was recently sold at a profit. Other clients include Boston College, as well as the Bruins and Celtics. Its biggest splash thus far has to be its jump into NASCAR, when it acquired half of Roush Racing.
"With revenue sharing, we were looking at trying to draw revenue from other areas that are untaxed. We really had to leave the sport of baseball to do that," Henry said this summer after unveiling a baseball-themed NASCAR entry at Fenway Park. "We've sold out about everything we can sell here. But we have tremendously creative people looking for additional challenges."
The Red Sox are onto something smart here. Not only have they seemingly conquered the baseball world, but they're looking outwards in the search of new business opportunities. Perhaps this business-minded POV is the fundamental difference between teams that win and those that don't. The Red Sox are a business, not a personal vanity project. And with that sound footing they've been able to win. Like the Yankees the Red Sox have been able to smartly maximize their business opportunities by leveraging their brand-name to the fullest. So perhaps the next time you're cursing the Yankees or Red Sox you shouldn't call them the "evil-empire," but instead the smart-empire."

16 August 2007

Nolan Ryan Says "Beef De Genki!" For U.S. Beef

The state of American beef in Japan hasn't looked good. They don't have a beef with us, but rather our meat. U.S. beef products were banned by Japan in 2003 following an outbreak of mad-cow disease, and while the ban was partially lifted earlier this year, sales are nowhere close to what they were pre-ban. The U.S. Meat Export Federation has launched a large campaign to convince the Japanese to buy American beef once again. In doing so the Meat Export Federation turned to an interesting choice to help turn around the herd. Nolan Ryan.

Hall of Fame pitcher Nolan Ryan is spending the summer in Japan trying to spread the word about a great American pastime. Not baseball, but beef.

As part of a summerlong campaign, the Hall of Fame pitcher has his picture in the meat aisles at major grocery stores under the slogan "Beef makes you strong!" Mr. Ryan threw out a ceremonial first pitch during a baseball game in Chiba, a Tokyo suburb, last month. A concession stand called the "American Meat Booth" sold bento boxes filled with American beef and featuring Mr. Ryan's photo.
Ryan might not seem like the obvious choice here, but the baseball-crazed country knows and loves him. It doesn't hurt that he raises his own cattle in Texas, and is the president of the American Breeds Coalition, a group that promotes the interests of U.S. cattle (or more like the farmers).
So the federation developed its elaborate "Beef makes you strong!" ("Beef de genki!") campaign starring Mr. Ryan and featuring more than 2,000 different beef-related promotions over a three-month period.

Developed in-house, the campaign includes advertisements in magazines and newspapers that give Mr. Ryan's and other famous athletes' favorite red-meat recipes. A sweepstakes at more than 40 retailers gives customers who buy American beef the chance to enter to win prizes such as autographed baseballs and barbecue pits.
The campaign seems to have had modest success so far, with monthly sales having doubled since it began in June. The current number still pales in comparison to the pre-ban numbers, however. So even with Ryan in tow, the federation is facing an uphill battle.
Sachiko Takahashi, a 60-year-old homemaker, says she's noticed the Nolan Ryan campaign in the meat aisle of her local Seiyu store but it hasn't convinced her to buy U.S. beef again. "Even though they say it's safe now, I am not 100% sure," she says. "Besides, Japanese beef is delicious."

South Africa Has A Power Problem

The South African government is hard at work preparing for the 2010 World Cup. It's getting new stadiums, infrastructure, and new city names. Yet those in charge have a larger concern about power, and it's one that could bring the games to a halt.

World Cup 2010 government unit director-general Joe Phaahla said they were concerned about the weak supply of power especially during June and July which it was feared could disrupt the first World Cup to be held in Africa.

"We will not want to see blackouts during the tournament," Phaahla told reporters in Johannesburg.
Yes, that would be sure, Joe. Rolling blackouts took down former Governor of California Grey Davis, and we could only guess what would happen to the person responsible if the power controlling the satellite feeds went down during a game. Worse, imagine if the lights were to go out during the middle of a match! It might be the first and last World Cup to be held in Africa.

This past June South Africa a cold front swept across large parts of the country, resulting in a record demand of electricity. Phaahla has said that the government is planning to increase the infrastructure budget by almost 50% to ensure the power problem would cease to become one. But you know, maybe just to be safe, they should play most of their games during the day.

14 August 2007

Yeah, You Don't Want To Mess With Jose Offerman

I guess this photo says it all. PopJocks and Newsday have the details. The independent leagues of the minors can be dangerous places where desperation runs thick. Here's guessing we won't see Offerman anywhere close to the big leagues again.

Buckeyes Fan Shows Pride With Soybeans

Most Ohio State fans show their school spirit in scarlet and gray. OSU fan Scott McIntyre has found a way to show his school pride with different colors - those of yellow and green.

McIntyre, who is a research associate at with Ohio State University/Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center needed a to do a planting experiment. Inspired by the OSU Football team, he strategically planted a soybean field so that it would spell out "Ohio State Buckeyes" along with an accompanying happy face. Spelling everything out meant planting 3,456 plots of yellow-leafed soybeans over the course of six hours this past May.

"Last year, we had empty space at the end of a field," McIntyre said. "It's on OARDC property, and I had permission to use the field. Since Ohio State did so well, I thought I would spell out 'Ohio State Buckeyes.' I had no idea it would work."
Unfortunately the message is hard to see on the ground. McIntyre points out that it's best viewed at 1,000 feet. Area fans had better hurry and charter their planes though, as the message isn't expected to last longer than a week.

With this successful experiment McIntyre is hopeful to create more plant messages in the future.
"We'll see how people like this and what fields are available," he said. "I enjoyed doing it, and I hope I'm allowed to do more next year. Maybe we can do a calendar of different fields."
It's amazing to see how different people express their team and school pride, and this is one of the best I've seen. If McIntyre wants to go from research associate to professor his next step might be to figure out a way for people to see his great work from the ground. Now that would be a start.

(Photo Credit: KEN CHAMBERLAIN/OSU Communications and Technology)

Rogers Cup Treats Its Women Right

Being a professional tennis player is tough. You've got to train, compete, travel, and play nice with your sponsors. There's also some pressure to win as well. But those who will play playing in the WTA Rogers Cup this week will be having it pretty good.

The women playing in the Rogers Cup will be competing for a $1.34 million purse this week. Yet while only one woman can walk away with a tournament championship, they'll all be leaving Toronto pampered.
There will be "several new amenities" this year for the participants, topped off by an Aveda spa facility. The tournament organizers are hoping to give some extra comfort to the stars, but more importantly they hope this provides incentive to return.

"We sent out some gifts to some of the players so they could see what we were doing," tournament director Karl Hale said. "But unless you experience it, you really don't know what it's about.

"The feedback we've received so far has been excellent. Hopefully, in two years [when the WTA event returns to Toronto], they understand that we do a great job here."
You'd think that the prize money for the Rogers Cup would be reason enough to head to show up and compete. Or the chance to spend a week in the great city of Toronto. Yet the tournament hasn't been the draw that it could be. It seems that timing is everything.
Player absences plagued the past two Rogers Cup events, partly because players wanted to rest up before the U.S. Open in two weeks. Hale said Tennis Canada has no plans to look for a new date when the WTA Tour rejigs its schedule in 2009. "We're going to stay within the same area of the summer calendar," Hale said. "It works well for us, and it works well for the players."
Along with the spa, the tournament will also be increasing its prize pool by $1 million for 2009, and is finishing a $7.5 million renovation to its player areas. If you're going to tune up for the U.S. Open in Toronto, you'll be doing it in style, that's for sure. The players might be too busy with their seaweed masks and juice bars to remember to play. It's almost as if there's an incentive to lose early so you have more time to be pampered. You could fit in a few extra Caribbean foot treatments that way.

13 August 2007

What's With Greg Oden?

Since being drafted number 1 by the Portland Trail Blazers in June Greg Oden has been a busy guy. He's had multiple trips to New York and Oregon, and well as trips to Orlando and Las Vegas. He's also been to Los Angeles and partied at the ESPY's. But there's something he doesn't seem to have been doing much of, and it should scare Trail Blazer fans. There hasn't seemed to be much basketball playing in the big man's itinerary.

Yes, I know that Oden had a tonsillectomy on July 14th, and it kept him from all but two summer league games. But now Oden is skipping the U.S. training camp that begins this week ...because of his tonsils. And that really made me wonder. My brother had his tonsils removed when he was little, and he was back on his feel within no time at all. So I ventured over to WebMD to see what they had to say about the process.

What To Expect After Surgery
The surgery may be done as outpatient surgery or, occasionally, during an overnight hospital stay.

A very sore throat usually follows a tonsillectomy and may last for several days. This may affect the sound and volume of the person's voice and his or her ability to eat and drink. The person may also have bad-smelling breath for a few days after surgery. There is a very small risk of bleeding after surgery.

A child having a tonsillectomy may feel "out of sorts" for a period of a week to 10 days. But if the child is feeling well enough, there is no need to restrict his or her activity or to keep the child at home after the first few days.
Does any of this seem weird? What is really going on here? SLAM Online wondered the same thing a few weeks ago, suggesting that he might have mono. Perhaps he might. There could be something wrong with Oden, and if it is the tonsillectomy facade will come crashing down come training camp.

But perhaps there's nothing wrong with Oden? Could it be that he's just babying himself? That could be even more troubling than a physical injury. A mental block or weakness could be detrimental to Oden. And it's certainly not the toughness needed to make a champion.

Greg Oden is an exceedingly likable guy. His interview with Miss Gossip of AOL's FanHouse is that of legend. By all indications he's a great guy, with so much potential to conquer the hoops nation. I'll surely be rooting for him as well. But still, the questions remain. Oden may indeed have had a tonsillectomy, but where there's smoke, there's often fire.

Sharapova Heads Home To Chernobyl

Maria Sharapova is a tennis superstar and one of the world's highest paid athletes. And while her tennis career has allowed her to travel the globe, there's one place she's yet to go - the Chernobyl area. But that's about to change.

Sharapova's mother, Yelena, was pregnant with her only child when the plant in Ukraine exploded and spewed radioactive clouds over the western Soviet Union and northern Europe.

"A lot of families were moving, but not a lot of them could because they didn't really know where to go," Sharapova told The Associated Press. "My mom's dad happened to be working in Siberia, so that's why we had a sense of direction."

Sharapova's father, Yuri, and her mother fled the city of Gomel in Belarus -- about 80 miles north of Chernobyl -- shortly before she was born in Nyagan, Siberia, exactly a year and a week after the explosion.
Not to forget her roots, Sharapova has planned a return trip to her family's native land. She plans to visit Chernobyl next year as a United Nations goodwill ambassador. As somber as the trip might be, it should also be one to look forward to. Sharapova's grandparents still live in the Gomel area, which was one of the areas most affected by the disaster.
Goodwill ambassadors try to draw attention to the plight of some of the world's poorest spots. Sharapova, who has earned more than $9 million in career prize money, has a two-year contract with the UNDP that pays her a symbolic salary of $1 a year. Goodwill ambassadors pay their own way on trips.

"They wanted me to work with them because they felt like people in those areas didn't really feel like they had a chance to survive," Sharapova said. "They wanted me to help raise the awareness that by building schools, hospitals, cleaning the air that there is pride and a side they can head towards instead of thinking all those negative things."
Sharapova is just 20 years old, but it's clear that she hasn't allowed her success to get to her head. Her visit will do a lot of good, and will be sure to please all of the children she'll come into contact with, not to mention all the area men as well.

12 August 2007

Save the Home-Run Apple, Save New York!

Since 1980 a New York Mets home run has elicited cheers and applause, but it's also brought about something else - the Home Run Apple. The Mets and their 582-pound piece of red plaster with a green leaf that emerges from a plywood top hat seem to go hand and hand. But when the team moves into Citi Field on opening day 2009, their apple may not be coming with them.

Dave Howard, the team’s executive vice president of business operations, said the apple will be retired when the team moves to its new stadium, Citi Field, in 2009. Mr. Howard said the Mets may replace the apple with a new model and may not discard the original prop. “We are considering various possibilities to have it on display for our fans at Citi Field,” he said.
With the beloved apple's fate on the line, two fans have stepped into the void on its behalf. Lonnie Klein and Andrew Perlgut are fighting the good fight, hoping to keep the apple in its rightful place.

Rather than sit back and hope for the best, they started a Web site, savetheapple.com, and gathered more than 2,000 signatures on an online petition. Their efforts have been reported on Gothamist.com and other blogs.

Klein and Perlgut are fighting for more than the apple here - they're trying to save the essence of their team. The Mets and Shea aren't about glitz and glamour. They're in Queens, where grit and determination reign supreme. Where else could Todd Pratt and Lenny Dykstra become fan favorites? Citi Field will be shiny and new come April 2009, and by all indications it will be a superb place to see a game. And while Shea is by all means a dump, it somehow fit with the team.

And while the Mets are considering other alteranitves to the apple, including a noew one, Klein and Perlgut have drawn a line in the sand. They want their apple. The same one as they've always had.
But Mr. Klein and Mr. Perlgut are not interested in compromises. “We don’t need any crazy gimmicks, shiny apples, bright lights,” their petition says, “just a large red apple coming out of a top hat.”

10 August 2007

Dennis Green Tirade To Become Coors Light Commercial

Football season is coming up, and if nothing else it means few months full of great beer commercials. And to whet our August appetite Coors Light has signed former Arizona Cardinals head coach Dennis Green to appear in its famed mock press conference spots.

Coors started the campaign last year, when they aired ads featuring real-life press conference footage from former coaches Mike Ditka, Dick Vermiel and Jim Mora answering questions from some Coors guzzling fans. After Green's historic outburst last year after a loss to the Bears, YouTube was immediately filled with people's own versions of the ads featuring Green. See below:



So the real question is, will Green's press conference footage be featured in the spots? It may not be that easy.

The problem, according to people familiar with the matter, is that Mr. Green's anger after the Monday night meltdown was so pyrotechnic that Coors and longtime agency DraftFCB are having a hard time crafting it into an ad that will pass the collective muster of Coors Chief Marketing Officer Andrew England, the NFL (which has veto power over ads as part of Coors' sponsorship agreement), and Mr. Green himself.

Efforts to make an ad out of the rant are said to be continuing.
This must happen. If ever there was a perfect man to sell beer, it would be Green and his rant. Coors and their ad agency DraftFCB are hard at work creating the right ad, but it's simple. The script is right there.
"They are what we thought they were!" he screamed, repeatedly, of the Bears while pounding the podium, in response to no apparent question. "If you want to crown them, crown their asses. ... They are what we thought they were and we let 'em off the hook!" A fuming, heavy-breathing Mr. Green then stormed off the podium.
Green may have a career record of 117-102-0, but we know what he'll always be known for. So it's time to embrace his legacy, and make it an ad!

Got Milk? The University of Washington Does

After a long practice under the scorching summer sun, players will typically head for a refreshing drink. Water, or Gatorade perhaps. The University of Washington football team has the usual beverage suspects at their disposal, but they're also trying out something new that you might not expect. Chocolate milk. That's right, chocolate milk. In fact, Washington's players are now required to drink a small carton of fat-free chocolate milk.

The decision to implement the program came after a study last fall from scientists at Indiana University that was published in the International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism and was supported in part by the Dairy and Nutrition Council.

The small study found no significant difference between using a fluid-replacement drink or chocolate milk for athletes following exercise, with dairy folks touting the nutritional benefits of drinking milk -- chocolate or otherwise.
So, after practices players must drink a fluid-replacement drink such as water or Gatorade and a carton of milk before they can head off the field. To help keep the apprehension at a minimum coach Tyrone Willingham stepped in to drink the soon to be famous combo at the start of practices earlier in the week.
"I check to make sure as much as possible what is going on and what they're going through. There are something's that I don't have to experience because I've already done them, but in this case I hadn't done that. So I wanted to see what it was, the combination, and get a feel for it."
It's unclear whether the Huskies will take the milk with them into the regular season, but it obviously should be done. Hopefully they'll win a big enough game this season, and they'll be able to do the traditional Gatorade shower on Coach Willingham. But of course, they'll have their own spin on it - it will be a chocolate milk shower. Now that's something we'd all want to see.

09 August 2007

Cal Ripken: Diplomat?

Fresh off his Hall of Fame induction last month Cal Ripken Jr. has conquered the game of baseball. Now, looking for a new challenge, Ripken is heading out into the world, and is joining the diplomatic corps.

That's right, Ripken is set to get a diplomatic role when he is named special sports envoy for the Bush administration and the State Department. He'll be traveling the world as a public diplomacy envoy.

The State Department said his new role was to increase young people's understanding of the United States by sharing with them his "impressive personal history and life experiences."

"He will reach out to a worldwide audience of young people while visiting their schools and clubs, hosting baseball skills clinics and sharing the keys to his success: character, hard work and perseverance," said the statement.
Now don't get me wrong here, I think Ripken was a great player, and has truly proven himself to be a great family man. But is he the right guy to be a diplomat to the world? Will people in other countries even know who he is? I'm not sure. Yet the bigger question might be whether or not any of these sports envoys (Ripken, Michelle Kwan, etc) even have a real place in the diplomatic world.

The State Department has proven itself to know what it's doing, so perhaps we should take them at their word.
The State Department hopes that using sports and other public figures as envoys will stem a tide of suspicion over U.S. foreign policy goals, particularly after the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003.
Cal Ripken can be trusted when he talks about sports. But will be trusted when talking public policy? That's his next test.

McDonald's China Efforts Spawn Olympics Reality Show

McDonald's is the world's largest restaurant chain, and in its efforts to conquer China have come up with some unique promotions. They're not doing TV spots and billboards here. McDonald's is teaming up with the International Olympic Committee and the government-run China Central Television marries its desire to expand in the country with its already strong Olympics connection.

"McDonald's Champion Kids"
begins airing regularly in October, and hopes to piggyback on the mounting local interest in the 2008 games. The prize? 300 children will get to attend the Olympic games next year.

Children across China will take exams and participate in an art and essay competition in which they try to impress judges by explaining what the Beijing Olympics theme, "One World, One Dream," means to them. Chinese students, along with children from the rest of the world, will then compete in a series of televised contests, from quiz shows to athletic competitions, to determine the winners.
Reality Television is huge in China, with American Idol type shows "Super Girl" and "My Hero" averaging millions of viewers. Nike has also jumped into the reality mix by sponsoring a show called "Soccer Prince," where athletes compete to gain fame and notoriety. Yet McDonald's is not the first to have an Olympics themed reality show.

Last year, another Olympics-themed show called the "China Olympic Coxswain Competition" pitted 80 contestants against each other for two spots on China's Olympics rowing teams.

McDonald's is going all out in this promotion, which is brilliant marketing on their part. They've seamlessly enmeshed their product into the Chinese landscape, but also embedded their brand into the country's growing Olympic excitement. McDonald's has the chance to win the Chinese gold, and they know it.
The contest is an "opportunity to draw a connection with our customers that is more relevant than just a regular television commercial," said Mary Dillon, chief marketing officer of the Oak Brook, Ill., company. Ms. Dillon says the TV series and other programs are the company's "biggest ever" Olympics-related marketing effort and a "tremendous opportunity for our business."
McDonald's is on to something here. Now it's just a matter of whether people will watch.

FIFA VP Calls England An Irritant, Will Fight 2018 World Cup Bid

Soccer is beloved throughout the world, and national pride often brings tensions to the fans and players who are involved. The same goes for the countries vying to host the World Cup.

But there are some people that you just wouldn't expect a crazy outburst from. Jack Warner would be one of those people. He's a FIFA vice president and president of CONCACAF, soccer's governing body in North and Central America as well as the Caribbean. Warner has vowed to fight in order to stop England from hosting the 2018 World Cup. Warner spoke of England as an "irritant," and one that was universally hated in Europe.

"If by chance, in 2018, the World Cup were to go to Europe, I'm quite sure, with the English luck as it is, they won't get it," the 64-year-old said. "It'll be Italy, Spain, or it might even be France. Nobody in Europe likes England. England -- who invented the sport -- has never had any impact on world football. England at no time has had the love and support of Europe. For Europe, England is an irritant."
England last hosted the World Cup in 1966, and is expected to launch its 2018 bid. Having already won the rights to host the 2012 Summer Olympics England has already proved that it has the infrastructure and capabilities to host such a massive event. So why not a World Cup as well?

Warner would be one to disagree, and he's thrown down the gauntlet and preparing for battle.
"There are moves to give it to England. I must fight that," he vowed.
Yes, yes, Warner. It's good to defend the countries that you represent, but aren't you taking this a little far? Warner also had words for Manchester United and their recent signing of a 9 year-old.
"It's obscene and most absurd," said Warner. "And we have to fight that and put laws in place to prevent those things. That is almost a kind of football slavery... and we have to understand that slavery by any form is slavery."
Uh, yeah. Ok. Warner is no stranger to trouble after having been reprimanded after being accused of re-selling tickets at the 2006 World Cup. Warner can take the heat, so I encourage him to head over to London, or any other English city. He can find out how his comments are received in person, and challenge those irritants to a battle. Now that's what I'd like to see.

08 August 2007

Kinoshita Aims To Be First Japanese NFL Player

You might not know Noriaki Kinoshita yet, but you might soon enough. And if Kinoshita has his way, it will be for more than a trivia answer.

Kinoshita is in training camp with the Atlanta Falcons, hoping to be the first Japanese player to play in an NFL game. He earned his spot in camp with the Falcons after spending the last three seasons in NFL Europa. And after the league folded, Kinoshita had no chance but to take his game stateside.

"I want to be, ummm, how do you say it? A pioneer? Yes, I want to be a pioneer," Kinoshita said Wednesday, flashing an optimistic smile.
Kinoshita's 5'10", 180ish pound frame won't intimidate any opposing defenders, but his biggest asset is his speed. As a return specialist for the Amsterdam Admirals Kinoshita led the league by averaging 19.2 yards per punt return with one touchdown. The season before he led the league in kickoff returns, averaging 29.9 yards per. In any language, this guy has speed.

The Falcons are trying to utilize Kinoshita's speed elsewhere as well:
The Falcons have yet to use Kinoshita on returns, preferring to let him focus on learning the complex routes of the passing game -- a process made even tougher by his difficulty communicating in English. He had 21 catches for 308 yards and two touchdowns this past season in Europe.
And while his chances of making the final roster are slim, Kinoshita is sure to see some snaps in the pre-season, which starts on Friday against the Jets. Nonetheless he's serious about his attempt, and isn't playing around. "I want to make the team," he said, and we'll just have to see if he will.

07 August 2007

Sally Hemings Will Not Ride Again

In America you can name your child anything you'd like. In fact, names are all the rage - even David Brooks is writing about 'em! Have you ever met a Lexus? Have you read Freakonomics and then noticed all of the Brittanys, Britneys, Brittanis, Brittanies, Brittneys, and Brittnis out there? That's because people are free to name their children whatever they'd like, no matter how foolish you may think it is. But it doesn't work that way in the world of horse racing.

A federal appeals court ruled Tuesday that horse owner Garrett Redmond cannot name his 4-year-old horse "Sally Hemings." That's right. Redmond wanted to name his race horse over that Sally Hemings - you know, Thomas Jefferson's most famous slave and reputed lover. And cue the awkward silence your brain must be thinking right now.

Judge Alice Batchelder, writing for the three-judge panel, said Redmond has other options that may be approved by the Jockey Club, which forbids horse owners from using names of famous or notorious people without special permission. The club's rules also say that "names considered in poor taste; or names that may be offensive to religious, political or ethnic groups" won't be approved.

"To be sure, the First Amendment protects horse owners' rights to free speech, and we do not foreclose Mr. Redmond indiscriminately from asserting that right, but the right to free speech is not absolute in all contexts," Batchelder wrote.
The Jockey Club tracks and designates the names of race horses for the state of Kentucky. Without an approved name, your horse can't race at a Kentucky track. Redmond started this all of by suing the Jockey Club and the racing authority after his proposed name was turned down, claiming his constitutional rights had been deprived.

Judge Batchelder shot this down, claiming that because the Jockey Club is a private organization with power delegated by the state, it was restrict free speech as long as it doesn't discriminate against any particular viewpoint. She also had some fun with the decision, quoting Shakespeare and citing the band America within her decision.
"In short, because he has spent three years insisting he has a constitutional right to name his horse 'Sally Hemings' and that no other name will do, Mr. Redmond now finds himself, like the songster of the 70s, having 'been through the desert on a horse with no name,"' Batchelder wrote.

"If he really wants to race or breed this horse in Kentucky, Mr. Redmond will have to come up with a name that complies with the Jockey Club's rules," Batchelder wrote. "A quick look at the Jockey Club's Registry confirms that 'Horse With No Name' is no longer available."
The said horse now goes by the name "Awaiting Justice," competed in two races in the month of July, and didn't place in either one. I guess the horse is also awaiting a victory as well.

I suppose we've seen the last of Sally Hemings the filly. But we haven't seen the craziest name yet. So I won't be surprised to meet a Bacardi or Armani in the near future, and we'll await the next great horse name as well.

Wally Backman Done Managing For Peanuts

The first-year Independent South Coast League is a long way from the senior circuit. It was supposed to be Wally Backman's first step back to managing in the big leagues, but his quest ended too soon. Backman resigned Tuesday as manager of the Albany, Georgia based South Georgia Peanuts despite having lead the Peanuts to the first-half title as well as having his squad in first place through the first 23 games of the second half.

Backman's tenure with the Peanuts was brief, but it certainly wasn't without incident. Let's take a look at the highlights:

  • Backman had the honor of meriting the first ever SCL suspension on June 12th after he bumped an umpire several times. It was a three-game suspension, and Backman launched the missive that the SCL's umpiring was "a disgrace to professional baseball."
  • Backman was suspended for three games for his conduct during and after a June 26th game against the Anderson Joes. Backman was ejected for arguing balls and strikes, and then hurled 22 bats onto the infield grass and emptied a bucket of balls along the third base line. After the game Backman thought it would be prudent to head up to the press box, and air his grievances with Joes announcer Mike Janela, who had referred to Backman's behavior as a "childish outburst." Backman told him where he could stick his microphone (and perhaps some other unprintable words) and also had words for the Joes GM, who tried to break up the melee.
  • July 20th's game netted Backman an eight-game suspension. Having already been ejected earlier in the game against the Macon Music, Backman's squad got into a bench-clearing brawl. And after the fight was over, the Peanuts just took off. They forfeited rather than play on. While Backman had been ejected five innings prior to the fight, he still took the suspension nonetheless.
  • Two Peanuts players, Joey Hooft and Doc Brooks were suspended on Monday for violation the SCL's drug policy. Two additional players were suspended for diluted samples. Perhaps not coincidentally Brooks was leading his team in HR, RBI, and batting average. He was also the league leader in RBI, and second in batting average. Backman criticized the way the league conducted the test, and challenged the credibility of the league's medical director.
The biggest thing that comes to mind with all of this is: what if? What if Backman had not been fired by the Diamondbacks, and been allowed to manage? Simply said, it would have been amazing. Ozzie Guillen would have nothing on this guy, and the blogosphere would have had daily material. That being said, it probably wouldn't have been a good atmosphere for Arizona's plethora of prospects.

It took less than a week for Backman to wear out his welcome with the Diamondbacks, and only a forgiving (and fledgling) league like the SCL could have put up with him as long as they did. And to his credit Backman went down feisty as always:
“Things on the field, I can’t say I will ever apologize for them,” Backman said during a news conference, according to the Albany Herald. “That’s always been my nature. I have some regrets. I don’t know that I need to go into those.”
Maybe he's right. But if the Southern Georgia Peanuts were a long way from the big leagues, where he's at now is only further away. And it's too bad.

06 August 2007

Chaminade's Logo Contest Answers "What's A Silversword?"

Chaminade University of Honolulu is probably best known for hosting the annual Maui Invitational basketball tournament during Thanksgiving week of each year. As part of their hosting duties the Chaminade Silverswords are allowed to have their own squad participate in the tournament, which is inevitably a mismatch, as well as a 30-point spread. But this year Chaminade wants to get crushed in style. They want a new logo. And they're having a contest to do so.

Any logo submitted should be simple but captivating, clearly recognizable, and possess the ability to have a future mascot tie-in. The logo will be used on all promotional and developmental materials, the www.goswords.com website, branded merchandise, athletic uniforms, and coaches attire.

In addition to artistic exposure, the winner of the Logo Contest will either receive a trip to the 2007 EA Sports Maui Invitational, where the new logo will be revealed in a halftime ceremony, and $200 spending cash or a $500 cash prize (to be chosen by winner).
And what is a silversword, you might ask? It's proper name is Argyroxiphium, and is a small genus of five species in the sunflower family. But the Chaminade Argyroxiphium doesn't sound very inspiring, does it? Some say the plant gets its common name due to its long, narrow leaves and silvery hairs. Chaminade has a different reason:
The flowers of the exotic plant are said to resemble the cross, the symbol of Christian faith. The Silversword grows up to 20 years before it produces a single, one to nine foot tall flower.
Whatever the reason, graphic designers and sports fans should be interested in this innovative approach. It's rare that sports teams and universities even take into consideration what the fans have to say. But in this case, they're leaving it up to the fans. Chaminade has made a smart move here, as they've activated their loyal (but small) fan base.

(HT: Uni Watch Blog)

05 August 2007

Look Out USC, Lil' Romeo Is Coming To Campus

Hey USC Trojan fans, do you think you'll have had enough of the circus atmosphere by the time OJ Mayo leaves campus next April? There will be no rest for the weary, because guess who will be next? That's right, Lil' Romeo.

Lil' Romeo, aka Romeo, aka Percy Miller Jr. is among other things an actor and rapper. But the rising Senior is also a point guard at Beverly HIlls High School who averaged 19 points and 5 assists per contest during his Junior season.

At 5-foot-10 and 160 pounds he might be a little undersized for D1 ball, though. Doubters can come from anywhere. Just ask Sejin Park, the starting shooting guard on his own team.

"Being in front of his dad and his posse, if you will, seemed to add to him playing a little more selfishly," Park said. "Sometimes, it would be better if he passed the ball a little more. Other times, he'll try to do a little extra going to the basket when two points is two points. I think he needs to get that out of his system and focus on the game instead of what the crowd is telling him."
Here's guessing that the Beverly Hills basketball team may get called in for a media relations crash course over the next few days. Keep going, Park. What else do you think?
"A lot of my friends doubt he can be a Pac-10 player," Park said. "He can't really take over a game and doesn't have Division-I level skills yet. But he looks better every time he comes to play. As of right now, I don't see him prospering at the next level."
Well Sejin, good luck getting passes now! And certainly don't expect to be invited to Romeo's next big party either.

Fret not though, Trojan fans. Romeo will be paying his own way at USC, and wont be taking up a valuable scholarship. And he also has the support of those who really matter - his famous friends. Snoop Dogg, Michael Jordan, Jay Z and Beyonce have all promised to come see him play his freshman year.
"Michael Jordan told me I better not shoot airballs when he comes out," Romeo said. "When people heard I'm going to USC, they got real excited. I feel going there will bring a lot of attention to USC and a lot of attention to me. People want to see if I really can play ball."

Unlike his teammate, Romeo is saying all the right things.
"This is four years of my life that I want to go to school, be a regular student and a USC Trojan," Romeo said. "I'm going to be dedicated to playing ball and being a full-time student."

04 August 2007

Aaron Miles - The Reverse Ankiel?


Cardinals Second Baseman Aaron Miles is a fine player - he's batting .284 for the season. But he can now add another element to his resume, as he's now a major league pitcher. Make that one with a .000 ERA.

In the midst of a 12-1 blowout loss to the Washington Nationals, Miles took the mound for the eighth inning. There's no pressure when you're down big. But there is when it's your first pitching outing since you were 14 years old.

When you're down that bad, it's not always worth it to waste your bullpen. I guess it also gives you a sense of humor.

"I didn't know who to pitch and (pitching coach Dave) Duncan said: 'Who's our shortest reliever?' That's pretty obvious, it's Miles," LaRussa explained of the move. "So you're right, Dunc. I applaud him for his sense of humor when we're getting our butt beat like that."
The most famous incident of a position player coming in to mop up a loss has to be from 1993, when Texas Rangers outfielder Jose Canseco convinced Kevin Kennedy to let him pitch the end of a meaningless game. He ended up blowing out his arm.

Miles fared far better. He threw nine pitches, and retired the side in order. Nationals sluggers Ryan Zimmerman, Dmitri Young and Austin Kearns had nothing on Miles, at least for once.
Miles couldn't seem to believe it either.
"I've never done that before so I didn't think it would go that smoothly, that's for sure," Miles said with a grin. "I was just throwing the old sinkerball that I turn the double-play with usually. It's amazing that I got out of the inning without anybody getting on, but I've got to give it up to the bullpen," Miles concluded. "They told me the slower you throw, the better, and they were right."
Rick Ankiel has has pretty good success going from pitcher to outfielder. Could we see Miles doing the reverse move? Unlikely, but after a perfect outing it makes you wonder.

02 August 2007

China's Hairiest Man Wants To Carry The Torch

The Olympic torch relay is one of the highlights parts of the Olympics, and a great way to rally the world and the host country around the games. And while celebrities and notables are often the ones carrying the torch, there's one person who is vying to do it as well. He's one of the world's hairiest men.

Yu Zhenhuan, who nicknames himself "King Kong" has launched a campaign to carry the torch.

"The Olympics belong to everyone - the common people and those with abnormalities included," the report quoted Yu Zhenhuan as saying from his home in China's north-eastern province of Liaoning.
And while hair covers 96% of his body, believe it or not, he isn't the world's hairiest man! He's surpassed by the brothers Gomez of Mexico. Victor "Larry" and Gabriel "Danny" Ramos Gomez are listed in the Guinness World Records as having hair on 98% of their body.

The relay is open to the public, and 15,000 people are expected to carry the torch. With that many involved, there should be some room for Yu, don't you think? I hope so. He's even got gold medalist rooting for him, in the form of Xing Aowei, who took the gymnastics gold for China at the 2000 Sydney Games.
"In him, I see the perseverance and bravery of the Chinese people," Xing was quoted as saying. "I will help him with publicity and give him some ideas."
There was no account as to how much hair cover Xing has, but you'd think if he had too much, it would hurt his routines. He must be jealous.

St. Paul Saints Give Dogs Something To Chew On In Honor Of Vick

Last week the Long Beach Armada kicked off the inevitable "Michael Vick inspired minor league baseball promotion," and wouldn't you know it, the St. Paul Saints couldn't be far behind. And you wouldn't expect anything less from the team that brought you the Vikings Love Boat promotion from last summer, would you?

Fear not. On August 21st the Saints, along with the Humane Society will give away a Michael Vick Chew Toy to the first 2,500 in attendance.

Vick, who is being indicted on dogfighting charges, will be featured on the toy shaped like the Falcons quarterback, clad with a black and red jersey with the number seven on his chest.
The idea for the giveaway came from an anonymous fan, and it's really a perfect fit for the eccentric Saints.
"People expect so many crazy things from us," said Sean Aronson, director of media relations for the American Association baseball team. "When the idea was presented to us, we simply couldn't resist."
The game will be played against the aptly-named Lincoln Saltdogs, and a portion of the proceeds from the game will go to the said Humane Society.

Oh yeah, and if you're interested in how dogfighting really works, read this. Read it. It's by a friend of LIO.

01 August 2007

LIO On NPR


As promised, I really did appear on NPR's "The Bryant Park Project" this morning, and it was a blast to be on the show. You can listen to the entire show here with the LIO segment around the 35-minute mark. Thanks to everyone at the show for having me on.

Oops! Iraqi Soccer Team Welcomed By Saddam's Anthem

Just when you think there might be a glimmer of hope in Iraq, things are brought back down to reality. Iraq's Asian Cup soccer championship was supposed to be a high point for the nation, and a reason to celebrate. Think again. Last week insurgents killed at least 50 soccer fans celebrating the win, and to add insult to injury even official team celebrations are botched.

The ruler of Dubai threw a giant affair in the Iraqi soccer team's honor, full of confetti and amongst thousands of fans. Everything was great...until the wrong anthem was played.

Some players and members of the Iraqi delegation walked out in protest when the organizers put on Saddam's anthem instead of the country's new one, according to Bassam al-Husseini, a representative of Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who flew with the team.

After Saddam's overthrow, new Iraqi authorities selected "Mawtini," a folk tune popular throughout the Arab world, to replace the old anthem which glorified Saddam's Baath party.
So what happened? The snafu was blamed on the technician in charge of the music. He simply was unaware that there was a new anthem. Oh boy. Somehow I assume that this person is now in the category of "former technician." That's no way to treat your visitors, especially one's you're trying to honor.

Somehow I think all will be forgotten, as the team was treated pretty darn well. Dubai's leader Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum made sure of it, and I'm not talking about confetti here. It would have been a long flight flying in coach from Indonesia to Dubai, so al-Maktoum sent his private jet for them. He also gave the team $5.45 million in cash in honor of their victory. This should have made Iraq's leaders feel really good, as it dwarfed the $10,000 they gave to each player.
In Dubai, the players lamented they could not celebrate at home, but Hussein Saeed, head of the Iraqi Football Federation, said they drew comfort from being among "brothers," referring to the large numbers of Iraqi expatriates living in the Gulf.

"We are just so happy to bring a smile to the faces of all our countrymen," said Iraqi team captain Younis Mahmoud, who scored Iraq's only goal in Sunday's finals.
Amidst all of the carnage and despair going on in Iraq, it is nice to see that they've got something to cheer about. And Iraq's first Asian Cup victory sure is something.