July 31, 2005 - Get It? Dudline!

Papelbon Debut Anything But Quiet
-- Someday, I hope I can tell people I was at his first start and have them care.

IB: In The End, October Mattered Most
-- Written off the game, with all the pertinent trade talk tucked inside.

   • Heck of a game, wasn't it?

July 30, 2005 - You Heard It Here Last
   Interview With The Vampire: After getting an e-mail that read:


what type of sports are in to?

just asking....


   I responded out of confusion, only to find the person on the other end wasn't a spam bot. It was a volleyball fan whose job is as an "Internet Link Builder," which sounds suspiciously like a spam bot with human qualities.

   Though really, that hardly seems odd when the night ended with a slightly buzzed coworker biting my knuckle -- repeatedly and somewhat hard -- as we departed a bar at 2 a.m. Apparently, it was a goodbye gesture. Apparently.

   Salt air does weird things to people. Especially when they were unique to begin with.

   • I'd like to think I'm pretty rational, but if anything along the lines of this trade happens in the next 24 hours, an irrational column seems the only proper response.

   Mike Cameron as a centerpiece? Are you kidding? At least with Aubrey Huff, it seemed plausible for several moments before the absurdity leaked through and stained the proverbial paper bag.

   And as for the fans booing Ramirez ... I'm usually pretty good about this stuff, but let's just say there were some animated discussions in the office and I was a little closer to irrationally swearing that I should ever be over a deal that was probably never going to happen.

   Though now's as good a time as ever to remind myself the mantra I used to write under.

Old Header

   That takes me back.

   And no, I'm not a Manny apologist, thank you very much. Just an old-fashioned believer that trades between two teams should make both teams involved better than they were before. And unless Ramirez has told the Red Sox that, starting next season, he's going to sit down and eat the left-field grass like a five-year-old during games, I don't think dealing him away is a real good battle plan.

July 29, 2005 - See U At Da Kelly Clarkson Show
   At Least There's Reasoning: Chain letters usually just come and go, but some like to strike with a purpose.

Why We Forward Jokes
This says a lot, so I am forwarding it to my friends.
This explains why we forward jokes.

A man and his dog were walking along a road. The man was enjoying the scenery, when it suddenly occurred to him that he was dead. He remembered dying, and that the dog walking beside him had been dead for years. He wondered where the road was leading them.

After a while, they came to a high, white stone wall along one side of the road. It looked like fine marble. At the top of a long hill, it was broken by a tall arch that glowed in the sunlight.

When he was standing before it he saw a magnificent gate in the arch that looked like mother-of-pearl, and the street that led to the gate looked like pure gold. He and the dog walked toward the gate, and as he got closer, he saw a man at a desk to one side.

When he was close enough, he called out, "Excuse me, where are we?"

"This is Heaven, sir," the man answered.

"Wow! Would you happen to have some water?" the man asked.

"Of course, sir. Come right in, and I'll have some ice water brought right up."

The man gestured, and the gate began to open.

"Can my friend," gesturing toward his dog, "come in, too?" the traveler asked.

"I'm sorry, sir, but we don't accept pets."

The man thought a moment and then turned back toward the road and continued the way he had been going with his dog.

After another long walk, and at the top of another long hill, he came to a dirt road leading through a farm gate that looked as if it had never been closed. There was no fence. As he approached the gate, he saw a man inside, leaning against a tree and reading a book.

"Excuse me!" he called to the man. "Do you have any water?"

"Yeah, sure, there's a pump over there, come on in."

"How about my friend here?" the traveler gestured to the dog.

"There should be a bowl by the pump."

They went through the gate, and sure enough, there was an old-fashioned hand pump with a bowl beside it. The traveler filled the water bowl and took a long drink himself, then he gave some to the dog. When they were full, he and the dog walked back toward the man who was standing by the tree.

"What do you call this place?" the traveler asked.

"This is Heaven," he answered.

"Well, that's confusing," the traveler said. "The man down the road said that was Heaven, too."

"Oh, you mean the place with the gold street and pearly gates? Nope. That's hell."

"Doesn't it make you mad for them to use your name like that?"

"No, we're just happy that they screen out the folks who would leave their best friends behind."

   This alone would be sufficient, since clearly the world needs to be reminded about the dangers of post-mortem pet abandonment. Given my family, this means I'm going to have somewhere in the vicinity of a posse following me around after death, but that is what it is.

   This e-mail, however, was more.


Sometimes, we wonder why friends keep forwarding jokes to us without writing a word. Maybe this will explain.

When you are very busy, but still want to keep in touch, guess what you do? You forward jokes. When you have nothing to say, but still want to keep contact, you forward jokes. When you have something to say, but don't know what, and don't know how, you forward jokes. Also to let you know that you are still remembered, you are still important, you are still loved, you are still cared for, guess what you get?

A forwarded joke.

So, next time if you get a joke, don't think that you've been sent just another forwarded joke, but that you've been thought of today and your friend on the other end of your computer wanted to send you a smile.

You are all welcome @ my water bowl anytime.

   I do appreciate the sentiment from the sender, but given I don't forward jokes for fear of my last name being caught in spam filters due to vaginal allusions, my version is to quote the above in exciting red type.

   And to not tell that 'ghost train' story, because given I drove cross-town that night to investigate things, I can at least see how it would be plausible in a panic.

   • And really, when you've spent the evening taking in the wonder of Clay Aiken: The Jukebox Tour, stories about remembering our beloved dogs after death seem all too topical.

   And so it was many months ago when Blender Magazine commissioned a list of "The 50 Worst Songs Ever" that Starship's We Built This City took the coveted No. 1 spot. We will ignore for a moment that I actually like three of the songs in the Top 10 -- only one of which is in a comedic way -- because I'm telling a story.

   A story that involves three performers walking onto a stage lit mainly by an illuminated jukebox, signaling the start of Clay Aiken's performance. As they have a discussion that is clearly meant only to bridge to the opening number, they reach the jukebox and strike it ... beginning the performance. When they strike it, a song begins to play.

   I would not be lying to say the song was We Built This City.

   Stuck on repeat.

   For a minute-plus.

We built this city! We built this city on rock and roll ...
rock and roll ...
rock and roll ...
rock and roll ...
rock and roll ...
rock and roll ...
rock and roll ...
rock and roll ...
rock and roll ...

   Et al.

   It was at this point I sent a text message out to Julie that read the following:

and it hasn't even begun yet. Dear God, hold me.

   While I was not held, I was right ... the show did not suck worse. As I explained after successful gambling had calmed me down, Clay is at least somewhat clever and able to take himself with a grain of salt. When he tells the crowd he'll do new songs if they behave, dance and he "doesn't see any signs for Ruben Studdard," I can laugh at the candor. When he asks if anyone had watched that morning's Today show and they all cheer, and he then says "Well, that's too bad, because I was on Good Morning America today," he's showing he appreciates mob stupidity. A show with some self-important jazz virtuoso or rock singer thinking his music will change the world would be 10 times worse.

   OK, maybe not 10. Perhaps seven. I can appreciate Aiken's talent and showmanship, but at the same time, I can't appreciate it anywhere near as much as the two grandmothers who about broke their hips shaking it in the seats in front of me. To say nothing of the kids ... my ears will be ringing until Wednesday.

   I guess what I'm trying to say is tonight was proof how much I love my mother, and my family. She clearly enjoyed her birthday concert, and I was just happy to get to have a night off when the four of us could just be together and do stupid things ... like hearing Matt announce he's underage after he won $44.50 on a slot machine, Dad intensely pouring money into the most random of bandits or me show up an hour-plus late because I took Route 1 across Rhode Island and made three wrong turns.

   Though the "text a message to this number and how it posted on this giant screen" gimmick at the show didn't hurt either. Some samples, saved for posterity in their original grammar:

"My mom thinks youre the greatest thing since wonderbread"

"Ddarlin section 107 lurvs u! wash my doggy a happy 10 Th b-day lolz! New york in da house ^-^"

"Wow sect 26 guy is hot can i have your number"

"Yo homes this show gone b off the show!"

"I love you Troy Aikman"

"Wait this is a Clay Aiken show? i thought this was justin Guarrini opps"

   To say nothing of the person who gave away the ending of the new Harry Potter book ... he didn't even have the decency to send a SpOiLeR text message before it.

   And as for the gambling, because these things matter, I arrived back in Whale City with more than I had earlier despite buying two quick meals, giving the brithday girl a good chunk of money to gamble with, paying the Pell Bridge toll in Newport and losing a $20 on some machine because I'm an idiot. If Foxwoods is the home of poker, Mohegan might just have to become my home for video poker.

   Because we all often drive two hours to play video poker.

July 28, 2005 - The Silver Lining's A Knife
   Reasoned Debate: It usually doesn't come from a video game fan site, but they seem to have hit the nail on the head regarding this story.

Looks like things are going from bad to worse in the so-called 'Hot Coffee Scandal.'

An 85-year-old grandmother is suing Rockstar Games and Take Two Interactive Software Inc. for including the hidden codes in the then M rated game that she had bought for her 14-year-old grandson.

So basically she's suing them for having sex in a game full of violence that isn't intended for anyone under 17 that she knowingly bought for her under-age grandson.


   This seems as good a time as any to remind myself I never finished San Andreas because I haven't turned my PS2 on in a couple of months. I've debated renting the new NCAA game in an attempt to refire the child inside, but somehow, wasting away to nothing seems like a much easier enterprise. Especially since I was so bad at Madden 2004 that I broke a pair of controllers playing it online.

   Yes. Because the play is what broke the controllers.

   New Neighbors: I'd already suspected somebody was moving into the vacant third-floor apartment here due to the big pile of empty boxes in the vicinity of my door earlier this week, but the moving van and the loudness this afternoon confirmed everything else.

Their Bucking Moving Van
-- Their bucking moving van.

   I like them already, though leaving a six-inch diameter wheel in front of my door for me to trip over was not have been the best introduction anyone has ever offered. Though I didn't actually trip over it ... heck knows I've done enough other stupid things that I don't need rumors of that flying around.

   • I had a moment of panic this past weekend when it occurred to me my mother's ??th birthday was Friday, something that I hadn't given a whole lot of thought of in the previous days. Amazed by it, the thoughts of what I could buy her and how to make it most special began, and weren't exactly flowing like a river.

   And then I had a moment of clarity, though it was neither calming nor completely distressing. Kind of like finding out a long-suffering pet you loved dearly had passed on.

And there he is ...
-- And I gave him money.

   I look at it this way. Now I'll have a whole new reason to dislike Mohegan Sun ... bad memories.

   Though on the bright side, I'll get to play some blackjack after having watched a fistful of tremendous History Channel documentaries on card counting. And it also gives me a topical reason to include this license plate story, which wouldn't be at all offensive if I wasn't lashing out angrily at anyone and everything as I realize I'm going see Clay Aiken in concert without even a girlfriend or potential girlfriend involved.

   Suddenly, drinking Iron City beer doesn't seem so bad.

July 27, 2005 - For My Amusement
   I See Sort-Of People: A few days late, but the non-illness evidence of another "Midday at McCoy."

The S-T Alumni Team
-- Ed of golfing fame, Derek of former coworker fame, Cooch of CN8 fame and Nick of comment fame. Not pictured: Matty Cooch of the Kevin Millar Fan Club.

   Derek was a stringer for us who left for our friends in Fall River, and who is the reason we know the building they work in should probably be condemned. My paper apparently had the same problem a short time before I arrived; so much so, the sign saying said old building is going to become condos/luxury apartments has remained unmoved and utterly unsubstantiated since the day the S-T left.

   Apparently they had a hand-operated elevator in there, plus a pneumatic tube system to send pages and other whatnot between floors -- composing was on the fifth level, while everything else wasn't. Not like I wouldn't have broken that or anything.

   You've Seen One Terrible Beer: An aluminum bottle is what made me make the poor decision to try Iron City Beer two trips to Pittsburgh ago. Suffice to say, I will not err again.

It's cutting edge, it's new and it's turning heads in hot spots across the country. "Sleek," "modern" and "cool" are words being used by adult beer drinkers who have had a sneak peak to describe the new aluminum bottle launched by Anheuser-Busch. The stylish, 16-ounce aluminum bottles for Michelob, Michelob Light and Anheuser World Select are available at select bars and clubs in Atlanta, Chicago, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Nashville, Tenn., New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, San Diego, Washington D.C. and select Florida cities.

"Our new aluminum bottles gives consumers what they want -- cool packaging to complement their image and style," said Rick Leininger, director, Michelob Brands, Anheuser-Busch, Inc. "This sleek and sophisticated bottle fills the need for beer drinkers in certain settings like upscale bars and clubs."

   While I have no doubt that the average consumer has little to no grasp that a beer that tastes good is slightly more important than a bottle that might make incredibly shallow women want to do them, I do have to wonder if it's safe for our children's future to start building anything around the "beer drinkers in certain settings like upscale bars and clubs." Utility, automotive and food costs will skyrocket for no discernable reason. Lighting on roadways and in schoolhouses will become dim and insufficient, with hearing becoming at best tertiary behind skeleton-shaking techno beats and strobe lights at every intersection. Our unofficial language will cease to be English, and instead become hand gestures from across the room.

   And the number of physically handicapped will skyrocket, thanks to thousands of men routinely cutting their arms off to get away from that ill-advised hookup in the morning.

   OK, so it's not all bad. That said, I do find it funny Iron City sold the alumnimum bottle as keeping their awful beer colder (and nominally more drinkable). Michelob may actually have them there, as I suspect World Select could actually pass as something more than sucking rainwater off a wheat field.

   This must stop, however, because 30 more seconds of this site's percussion-laden background music could cause me to start biting people because the ecstacy told me to do it.

   • I normally don't like to say stuff like this, but you pretty much know you went to Boston University when the nominally funny joke about Peter Griffin doing ecstacy caused laughter that lasted in excess of five seconds.

"Ohh, Brian. Your fur is so soft ... Oh ... your ears are like dog ears.

Ohhhh ... this couch! Awhhhhh!

Stewie! Your head is so smooth! How, how is that ... how you doing that?! How you doing that?!

Everything here is fantastic. Awhhhh!

Awhhhhhhh! These clothes ... Ehhgggggggg! Ahgggggggggggggg!"

   Let's just say if I'd had a $20 bill that night in early 1999, there's a good chance I'd have been in that turned-on shower, fully dressed, with the rest of them. I'd say it probably worked out a little better.

   I'm far more equipped to be laughing at fully dressed people in a working shower than I am to actually be in one.

   And no, I never had the chance to eat a pinecone, nor is it odd that it's Wednesday and I'm discussing something from Sunday and from six years ago. Unless you enjoy driving stories that involve me listening to whomever was filling in for Rush Limbaugh for reasons I don't fully understand.

July 26, 2005 - Open Road
   Red Sox 10, Devil Rays 9 (10): Just your average two-injury, liner-off-the-head, blown 5-0 lead, two comeback, ninth-inning, gave-saving catch, homer-on-next-pitch kind of night. If 2004 had the 11-10 win against the Yankees, 2005 might have last night with Tampa.

   And really, it could be a "turning point" both ways ... Clement could be alright, but if he misses significant time, Schilling can't say in the bullpen and they're back to needing a closer until September. And it ain't going to be J.C. Romero.

   And they're still a game up in the division.

   A Study In White Trash: Given I spent most of the day immovable, Jerry Springer seemed the logical choice for entertainment. It was the same as ever, and really a good source for some brainiac's thesis paper, except the targeted ads for those watching have changed.

   It used to be a lot of personal injury lawyer ads and stuff for general trade schools. Today, it was easily about 50 percent ads for culinary academies.

   Did the nation's dental assistants run out of money? Has the Web design field decided they need more than people who've been taught to color-by-number at Gibbs? What exactly does Mark E. Salomone look like?

   And really, none of this has anything to do with what might be the greatest advertisement for the downfall of America, the "Be Jerry For A Day" contest. Imagine people who want to be on the Jerry Springer show, but are too smart or too well off to need to have a pretend fight on stage.

   When The Fame Goes Away: She used to be the Joe Millionaire contestant who didn't have a past in foot fetish pronography. Today, Zora Andrich is pushing NutriSystem and their new Nourish program based on the fancy-sounding but pretty simple Glycemic Index.

   If only she'd stayed with her prize guy, she could have gotten where the real money is ... managing.

   • Speaking of food, I'd like to thank either the Pawtucket Red Sox or Chili's in East Providence/Seekonk for giving me food poisioning. Or if not food poisioning, a 24-hour bout of stabbing stomach pains and general joint soreness ... I'm pretty sure that's what it was hinting.

   I'm also pretty sure that's not libel.

July 25, 2005 - Bratty Brat
   Advance Warning: Thanks to the work of some people who are most certainly not me, on Monday, I will be playing golf here in what has to be one of the greater legal scams in history.

   The Media Day.

   I'm just warning you now ... it could get wordy.

   • In what has apparently become an annual event, it was another Mid-day at McCoy with a noontime PawSox game. There are photos to come, but I'd like to thank whatever was in that ballpark bratwurst that has caused me intense stomach pains intermittently for the rest of the day.

   I suppose it could have been the Chili's, in which case, pox upon houses and whatever. See, that's what people who think they're clever say. And I most certainly think I'm clever and find people who think they're clever entertaining.

   I've accepted it, and moved on. Just part of the show.

July 24, 2005 - Jaune
   Wrestling and Engagements: Wrestling deaths and engagement announcements ... the man has it all. Congratulations to all involved.

   And no, I don't find the timing ironic given tonight was the night Julie's parents went out to dinner with my parents in an event only confortable because I attempted to eat an entire pig rib cage. Well, half of one, but it came with pasta. Most pigs don't come with linguine, and clearly they should not.

   Awesome, Until He Spoke: I watched pretty much one-half of one Tour de France stage this year, mainly because I decided to accept sleep as my personal savior in 2005, but I did see this historic event.

   And no, I was not a fan of Lance speaking on the podium. Mainly because it was unexpected and he had nothing prepared, the whole thing sounded unexpected and unprepared. I know the lasting impression I'll want to remember from Lance Armstrong's seven consecutive Tour de France victories is him yelling at Ivan Basso's fans to shut up, and that he'll get to him.

   If Andre Agassi could learn a little French to say a few "Mercis" after winning the French Open and completing the career Grand Slam, so could you, Texas. Not that I'm writing a column about this, but I almost feel like I should use my only chance to fire off the cliched-but-accurate lede of a lifetime:

Looks like cancer saved Lance Armstong's life.

   • As has been mentioned in numerous places, one year ago today, one of the best baseball games played in the past 10 years was forgotten because Alex Rodriguez decided it'd be a good idea to challenge Jason Varitek to a fight.

July 24, 2004

   Was it a turning point of the season? Who the hell cares.

   I suppose it was in the sense that the team showed they could actually come from behind against New York, which did prove pretty important later.

   Just looking at this is good for a smile, and it doesn't even feature any pictured of Photoshopped purses.

July 23, 2005 - Where There's Smoke
   Celebrity: Now, I could be a lot more like this blog, because a major book deal is something I think we all could get used to having.

   But I've said it before, and I'll say it again.

On the blog, which Ms. Klein updates nearly every day, in between writing books and holding down a full-time job, she describes her Hamptons share house, her $55 tank tops and her photography, some of which hangs in the Hotel Gansevoort in the meatpacking district. Her racy anecdotes (including a recent one about a woman who forcibly kissed her outside a Carvel store) are a draw for many readers, perhaps because her candor extends to all topics.

"When you're honest," Ms. Klein said, "you can't be boring."

   The hell you say.

   Only in New York could a woman be having photos taken of her and have waitresses giving guys date advice while the dates are going on, and still have the guys feeding. Where I come from, headlights passing by on the street have been known to scare people off.

IB: A Reminder Of A Need For A Change
-- Inside Baseball hits the front page thanks to the new regime. Even if the new regime keeps feeling the need to play style cop.

   And because I'm both genuinely curious about this and miffed that it was slashed, a question for the writers and the readers out there. The final paragraph from my lede section of the column ran as this:

The set has a suggested retail price of $129.99.

   It was written and submitted as this:

The set has a suggested retail price of $129.99, but since I don't know whether or not I'm supposed to do this, I did not just tell you it's selling at DeepDiscountDVD.com for $77.97 with free shipping. I would never do anything like that.

   Is that wrong? Should that have been cut? Were you the editor, would you have cut it or let it go because it's my writing style?

   Obviously, I wrote it with the intention that it (and a few other things) would run and, truth be told, I'm getting a little tired of it. Maybe it's not the best example, but I'm just curious how much stle I'm allowed to have.

   And really, this now seems appropriate.

   • I've always said the WaterFires in Providence would be better if they were actual water fires -- coat the rivers in gasoline, then throw down a match and be damned about the safety regulations.


   They're still pretty cool without.

Providence WaterFire - 7.23.05
[Login using CoochWorld/CoochWorld]

July 22, 2005 - Now With Bug Bites
   Famed Harmon Smith Field: If I've said it once, I've said it 1,000 times ... if your league's grand championship is being staged in my hometown, you probably aren't exactly at the pinnacle of the sporting world.

   Though the thought that Brandi Chastain's career could take her from the dizzying highs of celebrating at a packed Rose Bowl to playing in front of a decent-sized crowd at the place I used to run the mile in gym class is ... well, it's weird for me, and I won't even be there.

   Did I have something to do with it? Probably not, because the team I wrote about isn't real good. They do, however, have one of the worst press release writers in the history of the universe. For their first-ever game last season, they advertised the July 11 matchup with Chastain's California Storm by encouraging fans to see the woman who "once removed her shirt after a game."

   It's been more than a year since I wrote the story, and a year's worth of PR material has come since then, but that's the only release I've ever saved.

   Ignorational Humor: About a week ago, I was all set to openly ponder whether Dunkin Donuts' new "Turbo Ice" was actually cubes made with all the Crank2o that was leftover when they took it on the market. Then, however, someone told me it was just a shot of espresso put in iced coffee. Kind of ruined everything ... it wasn't even crack rocks dissolved in the liquid.

   I get the sense the following will end up much the same way, but I'm going with it anyhow.

Solo Synchronized Swimming
-- Solo synchronized swimming

France's Virginie Dedieu performs her women's solo synchronized swimming technical routine at the World Aquatic Championships in Montreal on July 19. -- REUTERS/Shaun Best

   How does that work? Don't you have to be synchronized with other people? Isn't that the point? If you're just synchronized with some music, then why isn't figure skating just synchronized skating? The floor exercise just synchronized tumbling? How do the rhythmic gymnasts feel about this?

   Just remember ... when times are bad, there are people who were paid to have to write about this event. I'm not one of them, nor hopefully will I ever be.

   Hockey's Back: I was really going to go on about the NHL Lottery, but I have to say it was very quickly a whole lot less exciting than I thought it could have been. Not simply because the Bruins went out with the 22nd pick, but because every time I thought I picked a team I'd be happy to see get Sidney Crosby, their name came up.

   The Minnesota Wild? That would have been beyond awesome. And the Rangers ending up in 16th? There was a verbalized laugh.

   But really ... Anaheim or Pittsburgh? Him getting to play with Mario Lemieux would be great and all, but it was like choosing between whether I'd like a limb cut off or whether I'd like to be cast out into northern Nevada and told to find my way home.

   Hockey's extreme now. Not that I won't watch, because I love hockey, but I shudder to think of what will happen in the first league that's trying to build its game solely around the perceived interests of the television audience.

It's already looking up.

   I don't know about you, but I alreayd feel more interested. I'd rather they turn to logo metallic than turn the ice blue.

   • So tonight, I attended my first-ever Cape Cod League baseball game. Well, most of it ... when it was Wareham 14, Falmouth 1 after seven innings, the mutual decision to go get pizza in Onset seemed a much better idea.

   While I'll withhold a lot of things until I've seen a few more games, I will say that I can understand why there are a lot of people who swear by Cape baseball, and look at it as the idyllic way the sport should be played. Knowing what I know about the league, few do it better than John Wylde, Wareham's President/GM/Spokesman/PA Announcer/Whatever Else They Need. While I was a little distressed to see the CCT available at the donation table, I suppose it makes sense ... they're a sponsor of the league and we're not.

   We, after all, hate sports. Wink wink, nudge nudge, I'm not ripping my boss.

   I know that if I lived more in the middle of the league, I'd probably go to 20 games a year just based on proximity and quality of evening out. But I don't, so it's hard to say when it'll come around again. I just hope when it does, I'm not sitting behind the mother of the Falmouth pitcher, who felt the need to loudly day "Beautiful!" every time her son threw a strike. Not even that it was loud support, but that every time it was "Beautiful!" and nothing else.

   Given it was 14-1 when we left, there were more strikes than you might think.

   I'd also like to know exactly what the affiliation with the Commodores the two college hotties were that sat behind us. Probably not wives, likely girlfriends freeloading for the summer, but always the possiblity they're Cape groupies. Man, would that make the greatest feature ever that we would never run.

   I'd also like to know how common an occurrence it is for my high school mentor to go to the grocery store in a ratty polo and flip flops, especially because it made for the greatest spontaneous phone call I've received since Meg spent a summer living in the frat house next to the Boston Scientology church.

July 20, 2005 - Sexy Results
   Traitor: Clearly, there's someone somewhere who read this story and thought that, right? I know I'm not setting my expectations too low.

When the Los Angeles Dodgers dealt Roberts to the Red Sox at the trading deadline last season, his family wept. When the Red Sox swung through Oakland late in the season, a fan told Roberts that he wished he were still in California. "So do I," Roberts said. He kept in his locker a U.C.L.A. football helmet as a reminder of his alma mater and his roots.

   That's probably a common reaction, especially with winter coming. Though considering there's been approximately 135 percent humidity here the last couple of days, the summer's not exactly postcard weather, either.

   eBay, Here We Come: Don't think I've said anything about San Andreas being proven beyond filthy, though mainly that's because I haven't been compelled to actually finish the game. I'm probably pretty close, but it's just hard enough as to not seem worth my time.

   And as for the actual sexiness that brought about this whole AO hoopla, well, I'm less than impressed. Your male character stays fully dressed through any sexual escapade, and it's nowhere near as funny as Dave Chappelle's skit involving a black guy having sex "through the hole" in his 'Trading Spouses' ripoff.

   • So how exactly did this happen? No. 6? Really?

   I still remember fondly the nice T-shirt I bought in preview of America's last-place finish at World Cup '98. Boy, those were good times ... instead of enjoying the early hours of my graduation party, we all sat inside and watch Iran get way too excited about a soccer match. Thus spawning the famous "You're shittin'!" response from my inebriated father at 2 in the afternoon.

   In fairness, it was a party. Plus, my father has never been to care about United States vs. Iran soccer games. It's not like I have been, but I did used to watch infomercials for entertainment value.

July 19, 2005 - Light Jaws Noise
   There's Bleeding From The Ears ...: and then there's "Quite Frankly," the long-awaited response to America asking, "What would be like if Stephen A. Smith got his own hour-long talk show?"

   Of course, the question is rarely phrased like that. It's usually more along the lines of, "What would happen if a TV executive got the story of the Sirens flipped backward, and mistakenly turned it into a TV show?" You know ... shrill cry so awful you can't get away, and you then die?

   It's never a good sign when you look out of your depth in a 30-second commercial aired two weeks before the live show begins. It almost makes me wish I'd attempted to take him down several pegs when we were on Lou Tilley's old show together. If I was lucky, I could have gotten him to launch into a swear-laden tirade that got him banned from TV forever.

   Wave Etiquette: If there's one bad thing the Monster Seats at Fenway have done, it's eliminate the best part of The Wave -- that momentary pause left for the imaginary fans sitting in the screen to stand and take part.

   I was taught as a boy you never do The Wave when your team is in the field ... it can be distracting. I have no idea where this came from, but Boston won tonight despite this egregious breach.

Embree Couldn't Find His Stuff Fast Enough
-- A notebook that grew pretty much out of control when the teams started making deals all over the map. This is one of those days where I couldn't allow myself to not write ... I enjoy it too much, even in seven-day stretches.

   • At one point last night, the new boss asked what my plan was for Wednesday, where the Red Sox will play a day game with Tampa. It seems he thought there was a chance I would get in my car at 9:30 a.m., drive to Boston for 11, attend the day game starting at 1, file something while there, get back in my car, drive home to Whale City, go into the office for my desk shift starting at 7 (as opposed to the regular 4) and work the office side until 1 a.m.

   He's only been around a week and a half, and he already thinks I'm insane.

   I must be getting better ... old boss Comey didn't figure that much out until at least a month after I started.

   I will say, though, the editing out of what is quality, factually relevant copy is getting real old, real fast. And when I say real old, tongues are being held.

   Though I guess only one tongue is being held, as it's not like I have spares.

July 18, 2005 - Turning My Hand Blue
   Strange Happenings: In the file of things that don't make a lot of sense, Black Eyed Peas is opening for the Rolling Stones at Fenway Park next month. Clearly an overlapping popularity are ... one I would pay to see, the other I'd probably turn down free tickets for fear of being mocked by old people.

   Almost as odd as how quickly good golf can turn into bad golf.

• Whaling City GC - New Bedford, Mass. •
PAR 72
85, 13 OVER PAR
6487 YARDS
Birdies: 2 - Pars: 7 - Bogeys: 4 - Others: 5
Fairways Hit: 8 of 14 - Greens In Regulation: 5 of 18 - Putts: 29

   Hitting 300-yard drives on the front nine makes it a whole lot easier to shoot low, especially when they're going straight and especially when you can put a pitching wedge within an inch from 100-ish yards. Course after my third shot on the 10th rolled all the way across the green and I missed the putt for par, things quickly rolled out of hand.

   All night at the Sox game, I had the sensation that I had mini horseflies in my hair because they were almost infested there throughout the round. Throughout the five-and-a-half hour round ... I'd forgetten the joys of municipal golf.

   That said, it is a tremendous municipal course. Well maintained and nowhere near as radioactive as some people would have you believe.

   The Streak Is Over: With Johnny Damon's hit streak finished at 29, I can be happy I didn't follow through on my original plan for today -- calling Dom DiMaggio, holder of the team-record 34-game run for discussion and reminiscing. I'd pushed that idea back to Wednesday for Thursday, and I will now push it back to the day after tomorrow indefinitely.

O's Are In It For The Long Haul
-- One of the better plain old Tuesday columns I've done in a while, I think, and I'm not just saying that because it allowed me to sit back and watch the game without having to write. Though rest assured that is part of it.

   The aborted DiMaggio story also means my consecutive days appearing in the S-T will end in Wednesday's edition at seven. It's no Johnny Damon streak, but a week's worth of my face has to have people rolling on their bathroom floors.

   • At some point this weekend, a number of my friends convened at a lake in Western Mass. for a day of tubing, eating and whatever else one does in areas without XBoxes and PSPs and cable television and whatever else the kids are into today.

   I, of course, wasn't there. I'm never there anymore, and that's not the greatest thing in the world.

   I don't know how much it shows up on here, but every 3-4 months or so I have the "Is this really what I want to be doing forever?" inner monologue. Obviously, I'm hardly unique in this, but it gets me to thinking about what else is out there. What it would be like to have a job where I go somewhere to work, then leave work there on Friday until I come back to it on Monday.

   I've come to the conclusion it would be weird. But I've also come to the conclusion there will be a point on day where I get to discover that first-hand simply because I miss my friends and all the things that used to define who I am. Because I don't want to become the person everyone just forgets about because he's never there. I miss people, which is good, but I can't expect them to miss me when I'm never, ever, ever around.

   Then again, who knows. This stuff has the tendency to change really fast, and certain things happening behind the scenes might make it all moot anyhow. What they are, I don't know ... I'm just not exactly in the happiest place right now.

   Though that should make for some interesting writing. Am I alone in this sort of thought process on the highways?

1) Car pulls up behind me.
2) Car flashes headlights at me because 77 mph is too fast for the middle lane, but too slow for the passing lane.
3) I move over.
4) As car passes me, I whip my steering wheel left, plowing Masshole into the Jersey barriers on Route 24.

   Bear in mind this is simply a thought process, much like the classic Onion article about the convenience store clerk who killed 12 people in his mind. I'm not going to devolve into road rage, because this is a detached thought process ... more an observation.

   But really, what are the circumstances where you're going to be that big a dick? Shouldn't your wife have to be in labor? Possibly late for your anniversary meal or the house is on fire? Maybe you're pursuing kidnappers? That's about it. To actually flash your headlights at another car in that situation ... you're basically screaming out your window, "Hey! You're not speeding fast enough! I want to speed more!"

   Course, maybe it's just the road into Boston. On the way up to the park, some pair of kids in a tan piece of crap weaved through developing rush-hour traffic at about 75. The best part was after they cut me off with what was at best an unsafe lane change, they flipped me off while rocking their heads to whatever was playing on the radio.

   And people wonder why I'm like this when I've lived here my whole life.

July 17, 2005 - No Lie
   • I overslept for a tee time.

Cause For Concern, But Not Panic
-- Well, it is. Even if I did get a phone call encouraging something else.

Sore Thumb Strikes Bellhorn From Lineup
-- I also did a short Sox notebook. Not bad for a night off.

   We'll revisit things on Monday.

July 16, 2005 - Split
   Simple and Direct: Do not let this tight leaderboard at the British Open fool you ... the tournament is over. Tiger Woods had his crummy round, and his closest pursuers are a guy who now has a problem in final rounds, another who has made a career out of not winning majors and Jose Maria Olazabal.

   He could win. Retief Goosen might win. Colin Montgomerie won't.

   Well, none of them will. Not that anyone else here would be getting up at 8 a.m. to watch like the crazy people ... I mean, I could get up at 6 a.m. and start watching on TNT if I really had mental problems.

   There's a better chance I'll just still be up at 6 a.m. rather than me waking up for it. This is the World Cup or anything.

Yanks Still In The Thick Of Things
-- Inside Baseball, on a day where the material I had was a lot less impressive than I thought it was. Course, heaven forbid I write anything longer than this ... the readers might mutiny.

   • So yeah ... I sense some philosophical differences are brewing.

   More as stories develop, or as my level of panic becomes more than I can bear.

July 15, 2005 - I Miss Time Off
   Restraint: Tonight at the ballpark, they had these jalapeno poppers in the cafeteria that I could have eaten at least 50 of had I not been worried about public perception or causing my stomach to fizzle into a sulfuric acid production machine. They had this nice cornmeal breading with some spice, and not the usual cream cheese filling ... it was either another better melting cheese or just cream cheese with grease infused in it.

   Sooo good. And really, so was the game.

Sox Lefty Faces Six-Game Suspension
-- A short pregame notebook.

Sox Need Wells To Be This Good In October
-- With the Wells suspension stuff elsewhere, all I can wish is that he'd made a big deal about trying to throw a complete game. Though I do thank both John Halama and Jeremi Gonzalez for holding that precarious 17-1 lead ... storylines are always fun.

   Confusion: At some point during the game, an announcement was made about this show, scheduled for Saturday night. Leading the performers in attendance, "Boston rockers 'Fountains of Wayne.'"

   Someone should call them and let them know, along with the homefront.

   That, however, was superceded later by the previously maligned MashupRadio.com. While I still don't understand why it's "Music to Piss You Off!," the songs were at least better ... you wouldn't think Ludacris could go with Nine Inch Nails, but you'd be wrong.

   The puzzling came not via mashup, but via part of one. In Jay Z's "Change Clothes," he says the following:

Young Hov' in the house is so necessary
No bra with that blouse, that's so necessary
No panties and jeans, that's so necessary
Now why you frontin on me, is that necessary?

   Doesn't that cause yeast infections? Or was the mechanic back at the old municipal golf course all those years ago lying when he told that story about wearing jeans without?

   He was a nice guy. A disturbing guy, but nice all the same.

   • I spent most of today at the Bay State Games watching softball, namely the West team for extended familial reasons that should be clear. And plus, I've always seen UMass Boston from a distance and wondered if it was that ugly from up close too.

   Far as I can tell, it is, even if they do have a nice new logo that's the best use of a lighthouse I've ever seen in modern design.

   Which I now oddly can't find anywhere, even on their site.

   While I'm still trying to understand how our writers do anything with the average high school softball game, I've decided why I really like Julie's family. Outside of the fact that they're tremndous people who have been incredibly welcoming to me, I can spend a whole day with them and never once hear about how I don't keep any food in my refridgerator.

   Sadly, my mother doesn't read this on Saturday mornings. Sometimes the best jokes are the ones that fade from notice.

   I will now go put aloe on my face simply because I feel like I should. Red is a color, you know.

July 14, 2005 - Hit The Bricks
   Cut And Dry: With a shot at a birdie and a 39, I hit a 9-iron off the clubhouse.

• Hawthorne CC - Dartmouth, Mass. •
43, 8 OVER PAR
Birdies: 0 - Pars: 4 - Bogeys: 3 - Others: 2
Fairways Hit: 1 of 7 - Greens In Regulation: 4 of 9 - Putts: 19

   On top of not putting well at all, that's mercifully about all there is to say. Sometimes you can play well and have very little to show for it, though if I'd gone to full 18, it would have probably been the best round of the year easily.

   But I couldn't I had to get to Boston so I could fight the entire New York press corps.

Schilling Has To Answer Call For Sox To Win
-- Even without a headshot, it's the first Sox sidebar under the new regime. I shudder to read if it got cut up in the editing process ... it feels like I'm back in college again, or at least it will for a few weeks.

   • Does something actually have to go here? Alright.

   ESPN's Bob Holtzman and I have the same cell phone, though he also has a Blackberry. I, on the other hand, have never actually listened to CDs during particularly boring games, but I have at least considered it for a few moments.

   I've now gone to enough games this season to earn myself a seat in the fourth row of Yankee games -- we used to have to just forage -- and to be a known entity to the two nice guys who work in the media credential pickup window. I consider the season a success, even if I've become so jaded, I take some pleasure from something like this happening.

   Also among the traveling media contingent? This former Boston Herald writer who now works for the N.Y. Daily News. I'm not sure the word I'm looking for, but she carries her press credentials on a Super Bowl 36 lanyard. The Patriots' first win.

   "Triumphant" seems appropriate.

July 13, 2005 - No Sense Indeed
   You Didn't Miss Anything: Monday night at the office, I received a burned copy of an album by the Plastic Ono Band that I had kind of asked for, thus my reference. I haven't had the chance to listen to it yet, but I see no reason why after I do, I won't come here and just express my absolute bufuddlement and confusion about what took place.

   I've been briefed, and hopes have been set accordingly.

Hold On For Sox' Wild Ride
-- As assigned by the new boss, a second-half preview of sorts. Though we're still trying to figure each other out, it came out better than I thought it would. That's always nice.

   In a positive spin, we blew deadline by a lot less time tonight than we did Tuesday night. That's not really important if you get all uppity about the true meaning of the word "deadline," but I think it's somewhat permissable for the time being.

   • Apparently, they're now carding kids at the mall. Or at least they will be come Sept. 9 and Western Mass.'s biggest in Holyoke, which I believe doubles as the third-largest in all of New England behind South Shore and Providence Place -- oh, the things I know.

The policy is aimed at personal safety of unescorted teens, who are frequent visitors, and the convenience of other shoppers who may be subject to such indignities as "fighting, horseplay, harassment and offensive language," according to signs posted throughout the mall yesterday.

"It is a nationwide trend and it has worked very well everywhere else we have tried it," said Michael Bovalino, the chief executive officer of The Pyramid Companies, which owns several malls, including the Holyoke Mall.

William J. Rogalski, general manager of the mall, said most unescorted teenagers have been well-behaved, but a growing number have become disruptive.

Similar policies started at Pyramid malls in Buffalo, Syracuse and Albany, N.Y., have resulted in increased visitors and sales on weekends and a decrease in incidents that required security assistance, Rogalski said.

At least one Western Massachusetts mall, the Eastfield Mall in Springfield, may soon follow suit.

   Yeah, I know it says it's a nationwide trend, but things like this are the reason I wanted out. Honest to goodness ... kicking kids out of the mall?

   It's Western Massachusetts ... there's nowhere else to go! Especially in Holyoke ... there's there, the Denny's and drugs. That's it. Why not just institute a curfew and get it over with?

James L. Soos, manager of Pyramid's Walden Galleria in Buffalo, said his mall implemented the same policy nearly three years ago and it has resulted in a return of family shopping weekend nights.

   How heartwarming. I know when I think of my childhood -- before those goony goth teens started walking around and giving everyone "the eyes" -- I remember most fondly the time my family spent inside the J.C. Penney, trying on pants. It's the capitalism that makes me smile.

   In another time, I would make it my goal to get someone rent-a-cop at the mall to card me for being boisterous, but I think faking seven years is asking a little much. Even when I lied my way on to the Eden Course at the sub-14 year old rate, I was only faking out four years. All that took was about ten minutes of shaving, plus the starter being approximately 135 years old.

   I would have made an Old Tom Morris reference, but I can coount on one hand the people who would have got it. Am I amped about the British Open at St. Andrews? Makes me wish I still had the scorecard from the 110+ abomination I fired off on the Jubilee the day before.

July 12, 2005 - Plastic Ono Band
   American League 7, National League 5: Take that, people who elect Mike Piazza and Carlos Beltran as All-Stars!

   Course, pitching was the least of the NL's problems going in, and then it was 7-0. Go figure.

   • Now, I'm not one who normally wants to tackle a lot of serious topics. I know what I'm good for, and it's culling the Web for stories about gambling at the British Open. The real high-brow stuff where "the locals know it as Ladbrokes" seems a poetic way to explain yourself.

   Funny. I thought everyone would know the gambling shop as Ladbrokes, since there's 1,600 of the damn things all over Great Britain. It's like saying "in a small brick structure in the city's North End, there's a small burger restaurant. The locals know it as Burger King." But I digress.

   However, I read this story and just had to shake my head.

LOS ANGELES, July 11 -- An armed man and his 17-month-old daughter, whom he had been using as a shield, died on Sunday evening in a shootout with the police here.

The police on Monday defended their actions, saying the man, Jose R. Pena, left them no choice. The police said Mr. Pena, 35, used his daughter, Susie Marie, as a shield as he shot repeatedly at police officers who, responding to a report of a disturbance, had surrounded his car wash business in the Watts section of the city. After efforts to negotiate the child's release failed and the man opened fire once again, officers shot him and the girl was killed in the exchange, a police spokesman said.

The police said Monday that it was not clear whether the child died from their bullets or Mr. Pena's. An officer, Daniel Sanchez, 39, was shot in the shoulder during the final assault and is expected to recover. The child's mother, Lorena Lopez, said she had no doubt who fired the fatal shots.

"The police killed my daughter," Ms. Lopez said, tearfully and in Spanish, in the driveway of her green frame house on the corner of Avalon Boulevard and 104th Street. She said she had told the police during the crisis that Mr. Pena, from whom she is separated, was depressed about his failing business. "I told them he needed to be helped," she said.

Ms. Lopez said that no one from the police department had contacted her to explain how her daughter died. "I want the police to pay for this," she said.

The child was only the second hostage to be killed in a case involving the department's special weapons and tactics team in its 38-year history, Chief William J. Bratton said on Monday.

   Yes, ma'am. The police stormed right into your house and killed your daughter for no apparent reason. It's all their fault. They weren't being shot at by her psychotic father while he held her up as a human shield. There's only so much help one can really give a person who's firing 40 bullets at them, but clearly the LAPD should have allowed him to kill all of them for the safety of your daughter.

   But don't worry. I'm sure there's some morally reprehensible lawyer who does billboard ads screaming "Accidentes?!" who will make sure those awful cops pay. After all, they might have shot your daughter. Though maybe your betrothed might have shot her, or perhaps held her up into the shower of bullets. That doesn't matter, though. Because if anyone tells you that, they're clearly lying in some gigantic police cover up.

   Genuine tragedies are bad enough under normal circumstances. When they have that much more confusion about just what the genuine tragedy is, it reaches far beyond what blue words on a white background can say.

July 11, 2005 - Goatee And All
   Making Assumptions: I think it's pretty safe to say The Boston Globe will never be writing about my Web site.

Steroids saved baseball. A TV network would be smart to hire loose cannon Mike Tyson as a boxing commentator. ESPN baseball analyst Joe Morgan is boring. Sportscaster Joe Buck is a robot. College basketball analyst Dick Vitale is an idiot. And one more thing: "True fans can't get into Fenway Park anymore, because stupid bandwagon fans bring their bimbo girlfriends and leave by the fifth inning."

These are among the many, many views of Alex Reimer, a 12-year-old sports savant and multimedia pundit of sorts. If you want to debate him, you'll want to get your facts straight first. And buckle your seatbelt.

   Now, don't get me wrong ... I'm glad there's a 12-year-old kid in Natick who has a Web site that's making him happy and getting him noticed ... Lord knows no matter what he writes about the NBA, he knows more of what he's talking about than I do. If Nickelodeon is going to keep giving some random kid a media pass for the Super Bowl every year, he should make a play to get it -- he's got his ear closer to the ground than the usual little monster. However, if I may ...

   No TV network should hire Mike Tyson, because he's liable to leap into a boxing ring and break up the fight he's covering. Being boring is the least of Joe Morgan's problems. I happen to like Joe Buck ... I know that's just me, so I'll let it go.

   But "True fans can't get into Fenway Park anymore, because stupid bandwagon fans bring their bimbo girlfriends and leave by the fifth inning"? No. And that's not even close to accurate. True fans can't get into Fenway Park for a multitude of reasons, and that one isn't exactly near the top of the list. That's the reason you write if you want to get tickets to Fenway Park and can't. True fans can't get in because the tickets are too scarce, and too much. If you really want seats, you can find places to get them ... or you can try to get lucky in what's essentially a lottery.

   Every team has bandwagon fans ... there's just usually enough chairs to keep everybody happy.

   He should be happy though. He isn't growing up in "America's Best Sports City" with "America's Largest Inferiority Complex." I understand Detroit takes its share of potshots, mainly because I've fired off enough of them and I'm not a big-city potshot artist. I actually enjoyed the NYTimes story on Tiger Stadium if only because it would be good to add it to the Astrodome on the list of major sports cathedrals I've broken into, but columnal crusader Mitch Albom took it as an attack on Windsor West.

The New York Times wrote about Detroit over the weekend. A story about our baseball stadium. Not our gorgeous, new, comfortable, well-lit stadium in the heart of a thriving theater district, but our old and unused stadium at the corner of Michigan and Trumbull. I swear, there must be some rule at the Times that it only write about Detroit if the words "decay," "decrepit" or "destruction" appear in the headline.

Well, with the world arriving for Tuesday's All-Star Game, may I share a few facts that elude certain myopic reporters: 1) We still play baseball here. 2) We play it in a beautiful building. 3) That Olde English 'D' doesn't stand for "dying."

   I'll admit -- Albom's column is spot on, as his comparisons to being in Seoul for the Olympics and going to the South Bronx and viewing a crack house. However, maybe if he wrote more columns like these and was this empassioned with the written word, I wouldn't look at his work and go, "This is the guy who wrote a column about something that didn't happen." Maybe that's unfair, but maybe it's also honest.

   I'm not going to forget. I wouldn't want anyone who read me to forget if I'd been the one at fault.

   • And it all ties together.

   I bought the new boss a welcoming present, in so much as a bottle of 409 with a note written on it apologizing for not cleaning his desk better is a welcoming present. As usually happens, my visit to introduce myself and say hello because an evening off at the ranch -- Josh was working on the cover with two others dealing with the inside pages, and no one had anything much done well before I got there and spent the better part of an hour meeting him.

   If it were me, I'd have given him inside pages simply so his not cutting thros wouldn't hold up production of everything else. But really, it doesn't matter ... it's not like I don't end up spending most of my off days doing something paper-related. They needed my help, and they shouldn't have to ask for it.

   I would be lying if I didn't say I'm a little nervous at first glance. Obviously, I don't feel like I'm going to fired, axed from the Red Sox beat, or anything else along those lines, but when you're going from a situation where you pretty much have total editorial control of your own actions to one where you don't, you're putting a lot of faith in somebody else's hands. With Jon Comey, I had more than total faith -- it had gotten to the point he could make editorial tweaks to my columns and I'd be happy about it because it felt he knew better what I was trying to say than I did. With any new person, that's not there yet.

   The buzzword, if there was one in meeting one, was on more short-form stuff. He's also not a game-story person, which goes in line with the man that hired him, a former colleague in Doylestown. We talked a lot about inch counts and story length, with an example he gave being my bodybuilding opus. He asked how long it was and how long it took to do, I told him and he basically told me it was too long.

   Which may be true, but he also told me he didn't read the whole thing. All I ask of people is to read the story before telling me what's wrong with it, since it's not as though I set out trying to break some mythical inch-count record. I was there to tell a story two days worth of newspapers would be built around, and I told the story as I felt it should have been told. That's what I do ... I let my editors worry about length.

   But, whatever. These sorts of things will work themselves out in the coming weeks. And Josh, if you're following up on the "I have a Web site" I dropped at one point or another and reading this, welcome to the team. Honest to goodness, it's great to have you.

   Just stop wearing a freakin' shirt and tie to work ... that stuff creeps us sports guys out. While we're not exactly on par with young Darling's "The Curse Is Over, Bitches!" tee from the weekend, the only thing involving loafers that goes in the oasis of the newsroom is what happens when we're all eating Chinese food at 8:30 at night.

July 9-10, 2005 - The Accidental Tourist (Weekend)
   End of The Beginning of an Era: After who know how long floating the sea with an interim editor that ceased to want to work hard after being passed over, the new sports editor of The Whale City Chroincle-Picayune reports for duty on Monday morning. I'll probably roll in on my "off day" and say hello, both because I've been dying to meet the shaper of my future and if I go more than 24 hours without entering the building, a small piece of me dies.

   In November, I'm going to wish I'm this busy. Please remind me of that, since the chances I'll remember it on my own are pretty low.

First Half of NL Season Somewhat Predictable
-- As a method of keeping myself accountable and getting to write a little bit about all the teams I never get to, this week's Inside Baseball revisits my divisional predictions made in spring training. I've been quietly taking pride in choosing the Padres all year ... now I can share it with the world!

AL Proves A Puzzling Blend
-- Inside Baseball, Part Two. Know how the first half was written as though I thought I was way off on my picks? Yeah, all the mistakes were in the half I'm supposed to know more about. Heartwarming.

   Updates to come as they warrant. Especially if they involve the new boss realizing no one bothered to disinfect his desk in preparation of his arrival. Like I said ... we've been sailing with an interim captain for a little too long.

   • I was in Boston this weekend, thus my absence ... my parents had tickets to see Michael Buble in the city, so I thus opted to spend the weekend in the same hotel as the Society of American Magicians, who apparently give out things that look like war medals at their annual convention.

   After some concern about being confronted in an elevator by someone who'd want to pull coins out of my nose, there were no random acts of magic done either to me or around me. There were just a lot of young guys standing in the lobby palming decks of cards, as though at any point they would need to have some sort of duel where they tried to fire aces through a rival's chest.

   That didn't happen either, so really, it was a net loss. I did enjoy the hotel gift shop offering a cheap unofficial "World Series magazine" as a gift if you bought either $40 or $60 worth of souvenirs, but perhaps I thought it was funny because I was wearing my hat that will one day give me an aneurysm.

   Anyway, because I wanted to be mocked by city dwellers who wouldn't think I knew any better, I took a Duck Tour on Sunday morning. For those who don't know, the Boston Duck Tours are basically the tourist event to end all tourist events ... riding around in WWII amphibious vehicles, I cannot fathom how much money this company must make. There is a clamor to take these hour-long rides every weekend.

   Normally, you take one before you spend the better part of seven years in the city, but no one ever said I do what normal people do.

   As expected, I didn't really learn much of anything, though it's always nice to go floating in the Charles River and make jokes about what percent swimmability it is today. The view from out there is absurd on a nice day ... just the vista from beneath the Longfellow Bridge all the way back out to the alma mater. Great stuff.

   And plus, it's always nice to be with the family. I mean that in both the true way that I love my family, and the way that involves me mother saying things like this:

"They must be foreigners. They all have ugly shoes."

   Really, as great as that was in the moment, it got far better later that afternoon. As they were dropping me back off at my car, a couple of college-ads kids were basically having a "let's-get-it-on goodbye" on the street two vehicles up. With presumably one leaving after a visit to BU to see the other, I did what most mature 25-year-olds would do -- I started mocking them incessantly from the back seat with the general "Oh! I love you so much!," "Your hair! It's so soft!," "I can't stop touching you! Ungh!," etc.

   I was then reprimanded for being so loud, because of course, they might hear me shouting at them in a closed, running vehicle that's three car lengths down feet from the Massachusetts Turnpike. There was no thought of the aforementioned foreigners hearing my mothers in a quiet mall on Sunday morning when they were some 10 feet away with my ugly shoes, but that's a whole other story.

   Nowhere near as long as this one though. Especially since Matty Cooch and I went from having some plans Saturday night to walking most of the entire downtown and heading back to the hotel to watch television. I'm told there was a marriage going on that night that was keeping some people intoxicated, so if that's true, best wishes to all involved.

   And thank you for not inviting me, since I really am not much a fan of formalwear. Seriously ... look at what I do for work. Though maybe new boss Josh is a shirt-and-tie guy, in which case I'll be having you all review my resume as a group activity on Tuesday evening.

July 8, 2005 - Someone's A Jerk Somewhere
   The Barbarians Thank You: There's all this talk out on the Internet about how something like Google Maps and its satellite images can help terrorists figure out where to attack, given they've got everything from my house to Area 51 in there.

   Well, let's put the blame where it really belongs ... on the people local law enforcement officials have been blaming for everything for years.

Jumping the Great Wall
-- Skateboarders. "Is Not A Crime" my ass.

Daredevil skateboarder Danny Way, 31, from Encinitas, Calif., inspects the drop-in ramp as prepartions continue on his mega-ramp Friday at the famous Ju Yong Guan Gate along Chinas Great Wall near Beijing. Way will attempt to leap over the Great Wall with his skateboard simultaneously breaking his own skateboarding records for distance (79ft/24.07m) and unaided height out of a ramp (23.5ft/7.14m). The jump is scheduled for Saturday. (AP Photo/Quiksilver/DC, Mike Blabac)

   Now the friggin' Huns are going to know how to attack the Qin dynasty, Danny! Don't you jerkoffs even think about anyone who doesn't wear Vans DC shoes past the age of 30? They freaking give us both standardized currency and language, and this is how you thank them?

I'll wear my kneepads, elbow pads, my DC shoes with two insoles, a pair of gloves and a long-sleeve T-shirt. I don't have a full-face helmet, a chest protector or a spine guard. Basically, I just use normal skateboarding gear.

. . .

I won't use a mock-up ramp. I think my past experience with the Mega Ramp and the X Games ramp will give me the information I need to calculate this.

   Now, that's balls. Both the good kind and the bad kind.

   Wie, Wie, Wie ... All The Way Home: Well, she didn't make the cut at the men's John Deere Classic, but pretty much assured that when a woman does play the weekend on the PGA Tour, it will be her. Nine birdies in 36 holes ended up not enough this week, but is a pretty good indication she knows what she's doing.

   Even if she hasn't won any tournaments at the "pro" difficulty setting yet. Hey, I used to win low-level poker tournaments all the time, but that didn't mean I knew what I was doing or that I would never be able to do it.

   Does that have anything to do with anything? Of course not. All I know is today was the first time I've watched PGA Tour golf on a weekday for a non-major in years ... all the players who complain a girl is "taking up another player's spot" ought to take that to heart.

   Especially the ones who've already made multiple million dollars this year based on the fact people care about what they do.

   • I'm not going to post the photo, since it's really no more than a smiling woman sitting in front of her laptop, but the following is an actual cutline run by The Associated Press.

Anne Rubin sits for a portrait in her office at an advertising agency Friday in New York. Rubin said that she likes the almost unlimited e-mail space she gets with Google's e-mail system. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)

   Now, I have no idea what story this could go with ... a little digging around didn't find much. But really, have we lowered the standards for what's worthy of news inclusion that far? Is anyone running this photo of this woman simply because "I like having unlimited e-mail"? Can I get my photo taken at my computer desk in Whale City, smiling with the kicker of:

Jon Couture actually bothered to shower before this photo was taken in New Bedford, Mass. A media gadfly, Couturs disliked Tostitos Hint of Lime tortilla chips when they first appeared on the market, but has now made them his exclusive chip choice.

   And yes, it does all come back to me. Not that I need to be validated via an Associated Press feature story, especially since they'd screw up all the specifics. I'd be a "Putt Putt" champion with an affinity for subways, not Subway ... considering I was looking at celebrity pictures from the WSOP all evening with cutlines like "Tobey Maguire looses a game of Texas Hold 'Em" as though he was flipping quarters around with his buddies, I have little faith.

July 7, 2005 - Not So Jolly
   Respect The Dead: Even if they choose to be all goofy about it. Though you'd probably go a little wacky too if this was the one you went out on.

   These guys, however, have no excuse.

Because Mr. Kraft has been so generous to the people of New England, we would like to help him replace his Super Bowl ring. We are asking for donations. Whether it's $1, $5, $10 or $100 or more, every dollar is very much appreciated, and all donations will be acknowledged.

After the launch of this site, Mr. Kraft expressed his gratitude for our efforts and requested that we direct all donations to a charity or charities to be determined.

   Um, great gesture. However, I think Mr. Millionaire can swing the purchase on his own ... that, or dull the pain of loss by realizing he can go to Gillette Stadium and kick field goals for fun whenever he wants.

   • Now would seem the moment to mention something about the day's events in London, even if I did wake up after they were all over. However, what really is a dork like me going to say?

   There was a moment when I was sitting down, trying to piece together the news and figure it all out, where I read how it was the worst attack on London since World War II. My immediate thought, for a split second, was "Well, it was nowhere near as bad as our attacks."

   The moment passed as quick as it came, but it troubled me pretty greatly. What it says, I'm not really sure. Nor am I really sure why I felt the need to relay it.

   It's at moments like this where I realize sports journalism is where I belong ... even if full newspaper staff meetings do become an exercise where I see for how long my job can be entirely ignored by the people who matter.

July 6, 2005 - Three In Five
   Good At Being Bad: I suppose this could be aggravating.

• LeBaron Hills CC - Lakeville, Mass. •
PAR 72
89, 17 OVER PAR
6392 YARDS
Birdies: 3 - Pars: 3 - Bogeys: 5 - Others: 7
Fairways Hit: 6 of 14 - Greens In Regulation: 4 of 18 - Putts: 28

   Given the records I keep, I know this is the first time I've had three birdies in one 18-hole round since last spring, and that was two 9-hole runs stuck together. I also know it's the first time I've had to take three penalty strokes probably ever, since I don't usually put a lot of golf balls in the water because I don't play a lot of courses with water.

   Seriously, it's tough to be disappointed when I putted so well, and when I went 11-over for the first six and just 6-over for the last 12. The first birdie was a 7-iron out of long grass to about 10 feet, the second was a perfect drive followed later by a lob wedge to 15 feet and the third was a 9-iron to seven feet.

   Still, it would be nice if when I did smart things like hitting 7-wood off the tee, it doesn't take me five shots to get home from 15 yards (No. 5) and four shots from a greenside bunker just because it's wet (No. 17).

   As always, consider this a constant solicitation for playing partners. There's really no other reason it's here, except that I'm so proud of my golf scorecard table.

   • It's good to that even the International Olympic Committee, for all its flaws, doesn't like the French either. The idea that beach volleyball will be played right next to 10 Downing Street alone should have been enough to win it for London, and the fact that much of Madrid and Paris now think the whole process is racially turned against them is a delightful bonus.

   As as for this whole Schilling to the bullpen thing, thank goodness our white knight is here to save us again. Maybe it's a sign I'm becoming even more jaded that everyday life and that stupid "salad inner peace" ad for McDonald's have made me, but there's more than a passing chance Schilling knew about this move yesterday when he went on Boston sports radio and announced how the differences between starting and relieving are like the differences between being a man and a woman.

   Don't get me wrong, I love the idea ... I think they ought to skip the whole trading deadline process (if they can't get this guy on the cheap from the Brewers) and make it permanent for 2005. Contrary to what some may tell you, it might be their best option more than it's the end of Western Boston baseball civilization.

   Free is always cheaper than not free ... that's why I only play golf once a week. Well, that and the same reason I've only played golf once a week for about a decade -- I don't know anybody who's on the same talent level as me, so all my former playing partners quit the game because they were terrible. This will someday be rectified when I retire to a golfing community, but that's a lot of time to kill.

   Especially when I'm already dead, which thanks to a technical snafu, will need its obvious punchline to be held off another day.

July 5, 2005 - The Sad Truth
   Getting Respect: I don't often -- or ever before, I believe -- post links from Romenesko, but the site for journalists had a little mini-debate that got me thinking.

Baltimore Sun sports scribe Milton Kent doesn't agree with Milwaukee JS sports editor Garry Howard on rooting for local teams. Howard, he says, "has to know that sports writers are viewed in newsrooms as the least credible journalists in the building. Taking a stance on the teams we cover, especially a positive one, only opens us up to further ridicule."

   First off, in a shocking turn, not only is the aforementioned Milton Kent not an old curmudgeon, he's a high school sports columnist ... what I've felt is the job where one could be most forgiven for having a quiet rooting interest.

   Now, I have no idea how the Baltimore Sun newsroom works, but my initial instinct is not a good one. Maybe I'm not the finest example of journalism in action, given my stance on accepting gifts from sources -- I understand why it's frowned upon and can't say as it has been an issue, but would like to think I'm a strong enough human to not become a blathering sychophant because someone gave me a free cigar or a meal. However, I'd like to know why exactly Mr. Kent is so concerned about gaining the journalistic respect of his news-side peers.

   Do they laugh behind the sportswriters back in The Sun cafeteria? Do they get lower-quality gifts on their five-year anniversary? Is he just in need of some level of acceptance? Maybe I am the "least credible journalist" in Whale City, but is it a bad thing that I've never given it a moment's thought?

   My feeling since the moment I began writing sports is that, at their heart, sports are total bullshit. That's probably a little writer's license talking, but it remains sports is this artificial world where things that don't really matter are treated as gospel. Athletic ability, while a valuable commodity in the sporting landscape, does not mean crap in a world where people are tried for murder and die regularly in wars. Sports are a diversion that are not on the level of what "real" journalists cover. They can create the same feelings as real news can in some cases, such as when the Sox and Patriots won it all, but on the whole they really shouldn't.

   Sports are passion. They evoke passion. They're built on passion, and thus, they should be covered with some small sense of passion at all times. It goes back to the article I quoted Monday, and the quote from Ray Fitzgerald.

"Don't worry," he reassures me, "being a fan is a great thing. Those reporters who have lost a complete rooting interest -- well, something has had to die in them in order to do that. It's quite a predicament to find oneself in really. You want to be objective, but you also want to be passionate. Remember, though, kid, this is a job. You spend a hundred games doing this; you start to develop an edge. Do this for a lifetime, well -- you might see why a lot of them don't clap.

A wellspring of fidelity emerges from his eyes as he looks into mine. "I've found that I can keep doing this if I remind myself that I am writing for fans -- that all of this still matters to them. When it matters to them, it surely must matter to me. I certainly know that being a fan is a lifetime occupation as well."

   It is, after all, just an opinion. And though I do see where he's coming from ... there's being such a fan it makes you little more than a sycophant and a sports-radio caller, and then there's being a fan educated about what matters and not wanting to lose the passion that made you want to write about sports in the first place. I guess the question would now be how Milton Kent got into sportswriting ... whether it's truly what he wants to be doing and what he truly set out to do, or whether each day he wakes up wishing he could do something meaningful in his life.

   They never find the arguments I hope they'll find ... just the ones where I post hot teacher pictures or microphone wires in my hair or hot dog eating contests. C'est la vie.

   • While I don't agree with Mr. Kent, he's certainly not saying anything as stupid as the true overvalued morons of the public eye, rich musicians.

But as Coldplay prepared for a concert in New York to promote their new album, called X&Y, Martin said: "I don't really care about EMI. I'm not really concerned about that. I think shareholders are the great evil of this modern world."

Martin told reporters at Manhattan's Beacon Theatre that the band was uncomfortable that they sell so many albums they can affect a major corporation's stock price.

"It's very strange for us that we spent 18 months in the studio just trying to make songs that make us feel a certain way and then suddenly become part of this corporate machine," Martin said backstage. He criticised what he called "the slavery that we are all under to shareholders".

-- As heard on the radio driving in to the office.

   Good, Chris. Take you, your movie-star wife and young, smiling Apple, load up the car, and start selling CDs out of your trunk. Hell, mail them out to complete strangers like these guys do. Just be sure to stop empowering shareholders, the greatest evil of the modern world.

   Better yet, take Warren Sapp with you. He is a fellow slave, and he probably knows where and when all the restaurants toss out their stale donuts and overdone pasta and everything else ... you could eat for free, never having to worry about money. And really, I'm sure Gwyneth wouldn't mind. Not only does she not take up a lot of space, she probably doesn't eat too much. Not that you yourself are a porker.

   Not like those greedy shareholders, demanding you stop metaphorically playing with yourself and telling everyone how depressed you are to the tinkle of a piano. I'll give you that focus groups are bullshit, but know how we were talking a little bit about perspective before. Yeah, look into getting some.

   I know I found a bit when I died recently.

   We'll clear that up on Thursday ... let's just say it was the office's joke of the night, two nights in a row.

July 4, 2005 - Roadside Companion
   Rangers 6, Red Sox 5: It's coming ... the backlash is coming.

   I got to watch the dramatic conclusion to this one in what's becoming my favorite townie bar ... both because I can run into former Little League teammates I haven't thought about in at least a dozen years and because I can (and havev) walked home from there with ease. Suffice to say, I'm not alone in my sentiments these Sox aren't going anywhere beyond what Anaheim did as a division champion in 2004.

   Get trounced by the Wild Card. I'm genuinely starting to feel like even the trading deadline is meaningless ... I've been saying it for weeks, but this team's not selling the farm to win a world title in 2005 when they could sit on their hands and assemble the pieces to win five of them from 2006-2016.

   But I digress.

All-Stars A Mess, But Fun
-- Well, no. They're not a mess. The AL picks are pretty much spot on, with the NL bordering on a little funny when Morgan Ensberg doesn't even make the Final Vote. But I can see how the feeling might have construed that way ... it was another one of those columns that kept changing while I wrote it.

   And while we're here, given the spotty nature of this piece, read this story. One of the finest Sox-related things I've read in a long time, but the beauty is it has value beyond being about the Sox. Just how much my own feelings and emotions overlap with the author's is an exercise that I'll leave, for now, to you.

   • As is customary, I did not watch this. For at least half of the 12 minutes, I was showering in my hopefully private bathroom at the newspaper as we complete Day 3 of "Hot Water Happiness: The Search For New Housing."

   Though today did mark another year of me watching some city's fireworks at a media outlet -- standing in the 22 control room watching them on the downtown Springfield camera, as opposed to on the roof in the Nashua suburbs being eaten by mosquitoes -- it was the drive home that really got me thinking. The Fourth is an excuse for some to take to the roads, whether they be going somewhere or leaving somewhere else, and despite my earning a delightful "driver's sunburn" on my leg and arm, it was a day for enjoyed observation about the following topics.

   People Who Fly A Flag Off Their Vehicle: Typically this is a pickup truck thing, but I've seen it on the back of motorcycles on other days. Going in excess of 70 mph on the Mass Pike, with an American flag whipping as hard as you could imagine off the back.

   The point I always come back to when seeing this is how, in genuine flag etiquette, flying a flag as tattered as one gets being whipped at that speed is just as disrespectful as the driver thinks he is being respectful. A nice example of blind patriotism, and if not that, an excuse to bask in the public's stupidity.

   I'm just curious as to how one decides putting a full-size flag on the back of their vehicle is the right thing to do. Is there no concern of the flag ripping off the back? Is it considered more or less patriotic than putting those magnetic ribbons that rip your paint off everywhere?

   People Who Hang Their Feet Out Of Moving Cars: I saw this at least twice today on the Pike, and I say at least because I'm sure there were more ... I wasn't exactly seeking them out.

   Thinking about my own car and how the seat lines up with the window, I just can't imagine this is very comfortable. There's really not a whole lot more to add, as I have no experience on the issue and am not exactly planning on doing so in the future.

   I'd much rather go read the rest of this flag code, discovering just how many ways I've violated it over the years. I'm sure they really won't want me to get started on the years of wearing Revs gear.

July 3, 2005 - Fakeout
   Blue Jays 5, Red Sox 2: Best pitching performance I've seen all year, by far. It's a shame I spent so much time thinking I was going to do an All-Star story ... material, while incidental, is often needed to write.

These Sox Still Tough To Figure
-- I have a very bad feeling about these next seven games, even if they might help the "This team is not very good" statement look a little more right.

   Course, this made sure I didn't see this, which was apparently as awful as could be -- saw just enough to see Andy Roddick announce on the BBC he needed a beer. He's my kind of guy.

   Rather sad the only money that could have been made was betting on Federer at 1-to-6 (as in $600 bet to win $100), but also rather impressive. I'm just full of the insights today.

   • There's always a story behind a night when you end up at an International House of Pancakes.

   I think that's just as good a statement as actually telling the story, since you really can't duplicate the activities of an angry drunk with any real justice. Though in fairness, he wasn't that angry.

   I was more just happy to find out I could still walk Boston's Esplanade from the alma mater to the Hatchshell without passing out. Even if it is only two miles and change, I don't exactly get that opportunity in Whale City all that often.

   Two miles from here, I'm either in the harbor, the highway or the South End. None of the three are exactly what one should consider "safe options."

   I do love Whale City, even if Summerfest is just an excuse for folk music fans to park all over our lawn and leave wet diapers in the downstairs bathroom. Don't they know I have to shower in those bathrooms?

   Sadly, I might keep showering there even after I get my hot water back.

July 2, 2005 - He Died Because He's Angry
   Always Expect Less: From what I can gather, one of my upstairs neighbors went away for the holiday weekend. Normally, this wouldn't be worth mentioning, except that they seem to have left their hot water running in the interim. This of course means I had no hot water for all of Saturday, and likely means I'll wake up Sunday and Monday without any.

   Let there be no confusion that I am pissed about this, but I'm equally intrigued as to how something like this happens. Exactly what could a person be doing that would lead to forget to turn off the faucet? How do you run out of wherever you live with the water running? How have I or one of my crazy neighbors not gone on some sort of murderous rampage over this yet? Do none of them shower? Did I miss the rampage? Did I commit a homocide in the interim, then forget about it?

   Do I have a dead neighbor on the floor upstairs somewhere?

   Stay tuned for more on this late-breaking story ... specifically the part where I go to the office to shower. Yes, my newspaper has a shower. No, we don't have a gym. Maybe they thought the locker room was gesture enough.

   • Live 8 was today, and despite the benefits of being far more aware than I was in 1985, I saw exactly the same amount. This is not so much a testament to my standing for or against anything, but more a statement that I fear looking directly into Bono's eyes will cause me to become a drone of some frightening type.

   I'm not questioning the man's motives, but I am wondering if there's a group of people in some far-flung land that he just irrationally hates. Like, say, Borneans. From Borneo. I want to believe he wakes up in the morning, stubs his toe, and starts cursing about stupid Borneans.

   Please note I picked a country not likely to find this. That's confidence.

   Anyway, I failed in my motives to find what I really was going on about: the audio of the Sam Kinison routine which has been referred to by good pal Ed several times in the past few days -- how instead of raising money for Africans to buy food, we should raise money to buy them trucks. Trucks so they can leave Africa and "go to where the food is."

I'm like anyone else on this planet -- I'm very moved by world hunger. I see the same commercials, with those little kids, starving, and very depressed. I watch those kids and I go, 'Fuck, I know the FILM crew could give this kid a sandwich!' There's a director five feet away going, 'DON'T FEED HIM YET! GET THAT SANDWICH OUTTA HERE! IT DOESN'T WORK UNLESS HE LOOKS HUNGRY!!!'

But I'm not trying to make fun of world hunger. Matter of fact, I think I have the answer. You want to stop world hunger? Stop sending these people food. Don't send these people another bite, folks.

You want to send them something, you want to help? Send them U-Hauls. Send them U-Hauls, some luggage, send them a guy out there who says, 'Hey, we been driving out here every day with your food, for, like, the last thirty or forty years, and we were driving out here today across the desert, and it occurred to us that there wouldn't BE world hunger if you people would LIVE WHERE THE FOOD IS!


   Philosophy is a many splendored thing.

July 1, 2005 - Ripped And Coated In Intestines
   I Can't Control The Reader: So why exactly have people been coming here in droves over the last month? Response from the TV appearance? The occasional biting potshot at a certain Hollywood startlet, courtesy of Page 3 of supposed important daily The Boston Herald?

Bob Sapp
-- It's my well-known writings about Bob Sapp, MMA fighter.
Well-known as in I was entirely unaware of them.

   Though I did find out today the guys from Moes Haven found me through the latest appearance on Sports Pulse, which they saw from New Hampshire. If nothing else, that calls for a clarification that there are some who would probably find their music lovely.

   Yeah, I'm that easy to buy.

   • Now, being someone who can eat 50+ hot dogs repeatedly in 12 minutes alone makes you an odd bird. Takeru Kobayashi, however, entered a whole new stratosphere via the Wires tonight.

-- He apparently decided to become a bodybuilder when he's not gorging for sport.

Current world hot dog eating champion Takeru Kobayashi, of Japan, shows off during a ceremonial weigh-in for this year's contestants of the Fourth of July International Hot Dog Eating Contest in New York on Friday. Kobayashi, who has won the event for the past four years, ate 53.5 hot dogs and buns to win the title last year, in the event held every Fourth of July at Coney Island. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

   This competitive eating stuff is the comedic gift that keeps on giving, and keeps on growing. Because yes, America, you prayers have been answered ... the Glutton Bowl is returning to television.

Alka-Seltzer® and the International Federation of Competitive Eating today formally announced the 2005 Alka-Seltzer® US Open of Competitive Eating, a tournament of the world’s top eaters that will air prime-time on ESPN from 8 PM to 9 PM on July 28, 29 and 30, 2005.

The series, which will be produced by the IFOCE, will feature the world’s number one-ranked Takeru Kobayashi of Japan, the number-two-ranked Sonya 'The Black Widow' Thomas of Alexandria, VA, and 30 other elite eaters competing for a total of $40,000 in prize money and the coveted Alka-Seltzer Cup.

The event, which will be filmed on July 11, 12, and 13, 2005, at the ESPN Zone in Las Vegas, NV, is a one-on-one elimination tournament that will whittle the 32 eaters down to a single champion through five rounds of various foods and duration.

   Of course it's going to be on ESPN ... they've apparently decided sports just aren't enough anymore.

   Remember that when baseball takes a walk after the 2005 season, and all they're left with is poker tournaments, spelling bees and the exoskeleton of Skip Bayless debating Stuart Scott's separated voice box each morning.

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