Monday, December 29, 2008

NBA Player's Minutes "Just Right"; Doesn't Want Any More Or Any Fewer

Detroit, MI (Dec. 29) - In a refreshing change from the whining typically engaged in by NBA players regarding the amount of minutes they play, Detroit Pistons guard Rip Hamilton says his amount of playing time is "just right" and doesn't want to play any less, or any more.

"If it ain't broke, don't fix it," Hamilton said after practice yesterday.

Hamilton averages 33:44, which he says couldn't be any better.

"If I play any more than 34 minutes, I get fatigued," the energetic Hamilton said, referring to his frenetic style of running through screens and moving without the ball. "But if I play less than 33 minutes, I don't feel like I'm in rhythm. So everything's just right."

Pistons coach Michael Curry said that when he took the job last July, he was informed of Hamilton's strict regimen and tiny window of optimum minutes.

Hamilton's minutes are right where they should be, and should never change, lest the All-Star guard convulse or collapse

"Oh yes, I was quite aware of it," Curry said after being informed of Hamilton's comments yesterday. "So we hired a special 'minutes coach' who keeps track of Rip's playing time."

The narrow margin of sixty seconds -- to ensure that Hamilton's minutes stay between 33:00 and 34:00 -- is still somewhat of a challenge, though.

Just last week, in a tight game against Oklahoma City, Curry had to pull Hamilton from the game in the middle of a fastbreak. A couple weeks prior to that, Hamilton was inserted into a blowout win over Washington with only 3.3 seconds remaining, to push his minutes played to 33:02.

"It's not always easy," Curry admitted, "but that's what Rip is comfortable at."

The last time the Pistons played Hamilton for longer than 34 minutes, in early December against the Knicks (he played 34:15), Hamilton went into convulsions and had to be removed during the next stoppage of play. In New Jersey earlier this season, Hamilton played just 32:21 and collapsed in the team shower afterward.

Curry says that he plans on playing Hamilton for 33:40 tonight against Orlando, "God willing."

Just in case, team doctors are standing by.

Monday, December 22, 2008

NHL To Hold Some Sort Of Outdoor Event Thingie

Chicago, IL. (Dec. 22) - Curious onlookers have been gathering in recent days near Wrigley Field as quite a lot of activity, very unusual for this time of year, has been taking place around the ballpark.

Sources theorize that the goings-on have something to do with the National Hockey League, believe it or not.

"I saw some trucks with 'NHL' on them," said Dennis Coleman, 36, who works as an accountant near the stadium, as he stopped for a moment to look at workers moving in and out of the ballpark, usually dormant around Christmas time. He said he was on his lunch break.

Coleman and others who refused to be identified said that they heard the NHL was planning to "put something on" inside Wrigley.

"If you ask me, it looks like something pretty big," one onlooker said. "All these trucks and stuff."

Whatever it is, it clearly will be happening outside, which confused many North Side residents who passed by.

"Who the f*** would want to be at Wrigley Field NOW?," one man said. "It's five freaking degrees out. I mean, Jesus H. Christ!"

Rumors then quickly spread that the activity was in preparation of an outdoor NHL event, perhaps even a game.

"You gotta be sh****** me," a local beat cop said. "A GAME? Outdoors? In December?"

A financial planner who would only reveal his first name, Robert, went on his BlackBerry and did some quick research as he waited for the El train.

"New Year's Day! Outdoor game! Blackhawks and Red Wings!" he shouted as he got onto the train.

That information left the dozen or so gawkers in disbelief.

Phone calls placed to the NHL offices in New York were met with a recorded greeting that said the league would be back "after the holidays."

Friday, December 12, 2008

Lions To Peyton Manning: OH NO, OH GOD....NO!!!

Indianapolis, IN. (Dec. 12) - The 0-13 Detroit Lions showed up at the Indianapolis Colts' practice facility today in advance of their game here on Sunday and laid themselves at the feet of Colts quarterback Peyton Manning.

Grabbing onto Manning's ankles, Lions head coach Rod Marinelli began screaming in anguish.

"Peyton, NOOOO! OH GOD, NOOOO. PLEASE don't!!," Marinelli said, begging the Colts' star QB to not seriously hurt his football team.

Lions players then quickly joined Marinelli, sobbing uncontrollably and openly praying that Manning would "show even the tiniest amount of pity" and try to limit his touchdown passes to "no more than six" on Sunday.

Lions linebacker Paris Lenon led the impromptu prayer session, calling his teammates to kneel down, within several feet of Manning. At that point, Lenon began a prayer that lasted nearly three minutes and beseeched Manning to "look inside himself and find compassion" for the winless Lions, who are listed as "bajillion" point underdogs.

As Manning tried to shake Marinelli from his leg, Lions players converged, hugging Manning and otherwise trying to lay hands on him. All the while, Gregorian chants were heard from a portable CD player brought along by Lions PR man Bill Keenist.

Colts players were said to be too awestruck by the spiritual plea to interrupt it.

Manning himself eventually ceased his resistance and bowed his head, holding his hands up and murmuring a prayer of his own. Sources say Manning's prayer was a direct wish that the Heavenly Father have mercy on the souls of the Lions' defensive backs. In the prayer, the sources said, Manning told the Holy Spirit that how much punishment he inflicts on the Lions secondary was out of his hands and instead "in God's."

Marinelli was finally extricated from Manning's leg and then collapsed from emotion. He was then led away on a stretcher.

Colts head coach Tony Dungy, a longtime friend and colleague of Marinelli's, expressed sadness after the incident, which interrupted Colts practice for about 15 minutes.

"Brother Rod isn't heavy. It's a long, long road," Dungy said. "With many winding turns. That leads us to where? Who knows where?"

Then Dungy added, "Rod's a great competitor. I'm sure he'll have his team ready on Sunday."

Monday, December 8, 2008

Area Man Named Greg Thinks Dan Dierdorf Talking To Him

Landover, MD. (Dec. 8) - Friends say that 47-year-old truck driver Greg Philemon enjoys watching NFL games broadcasted by analyst Dan Dierdorf because he's convinced Dierdorf is referring to him whenever he uses the name "Greg" on the air.

Dierdorf works for CBS and is partnered with play-by-play man Greg Gumbel.

Still, Philemon's friends say that he "can't be convinced otherwise" that Dierdorf is speaking to him and not broadcast partner Gumbel.

Greg Philemon (above) is convinced he's the "Greg" mentioned in NFL broadcasts by Dan Dierdorf (top)

"It's kind of sad, really," says long time Philemon friend Robert Maloney. "Greg subscribed to NFL Sunday Ticket on DirecTV just so he can make sure he never misses a Dierdorf game."

Maloney said that Philemon began believing Dierdorf was speaking to him "about three years ago."

"We were all at Ricky's house," Maloney said, referring to mutual pal Richard Meminger, "and the Colts-Bengals were on Sunday Ticket. And it was a Gumbel-Dierdorf game. All of a sudden Dierdorf says 'Greg' and starts talking about the play. So Ricky kids and says, 'Hey, Philemon -- Dierdorf's talking to you!' We were pretty toasted."

But apparently, Philemon took Meminger's words to heart, and said, "He IS?"

"We all kind of looked at each other," Maloney said.

What started out as a curious remark by Philemon to his friends turned into an all-too-real belief.

" convinced....that Dan Dierdorf is talking to him," Maloney said, sighing.

Maloney added that Philemon now even responds to Dierdorf.

"He'll say things like, 'Thanks, Dan', or 'No kidding?', or 'Good point.' He has these conversations with Dierdorf throughout the game. Just last week, he bragged that 'Dierdorf told me that the Colts like to run three wides on first down inside the 20 yard line.'

"I didn't have the heart to tell him that Dierdorf was saying those things to Greg Gumbel, and NOT him," Maloney added sadly.

This Sunday, Philemon is looking forward to "another Sunday with Dan," according to Maloney.

"That's what he calls it: 'another Sunday with Dan.'"

Philemon couldn't be reached for comment, as he was out Christmas shopping, which sources say includes "picking up something for Dan."

Monday, December 1, 2008

Oklahoma City Wants To Return Thunder To Seattle, But Is Still Looking For Receipt

Oklahoma City, OK. (Dec. 1) - Struck by a nasty case of buyer's remorse, the city of Oklahoma City wants to return the NBA's Thunder back to Seattle, but as of this morning hadn't located the receipt the league says is necessary to complete such a transaction.

"No ticky, no washy. That's pretty much what the league is telling us," said Oklahoma City councilperson Renee Wilgard yesterday. "The season is less than sixty days old, so we're still within the window of returns. But if we don't find the receipt, all [the NBA] will give us is league credit."

The Thunder, formerly the Seattle Supersonics, are 2-16 and only Saturday broke a 14-game losing streak.

"They (the NBA) said we could return the Thunder within 60 days," Wilgard said, "but that we would need the receipt. Well, you can't keep EVERY receipt you get! I hope to talk to the manager."

NBA spokesman Frank Meagher said that the league will "cheerfully refund" Oklahoma City's $45.4 million relocation fee, but that without a receipt, "our hands are tied."

"The city is entitled to league credit for 180 days," Meagher explained. "Meaning that they could spend the money elsewhere within the league. But a cash refund is impossible without that receipt."

Wilgard said she "thinks" fellow councilperson Andrew Schmidt "put the receipt in his glove box", but that hasn't been confirmed.

"Maybe Andy still has it in there. Or possibly (city treasurer) Cindy (Kohn) might have it. She's pretty good about that kind of stuff," Wilgard said.

Meagher said several NBA employees have verified that when the deal was consummated, a hand written receipt was slipped inside a bag of complimentary NBA souvenirs that was given to Schmidt at the time of the transaction. Also, Meagher said, a more "official" receipt -- "printed from a computer and everything," was mailed to city hall the next day.

Wilgard thinks that the league should soften their return policy in this situation.

"We've spent quite a bit of money with them," she said. "And we're honest people. It's not like we just tried the Thunder out to impress people then want to return them."

Meagher says if the league bends its rules here, everyone will want to do it. He added that the NBA is "still going round and round" with the New York Knicks about returning Stephon Marbury.

Wilgard says she might try to say that the Thunder were already broken, to defeat the return policy.

"We could always just say that they were like this when we got them," she said. "But like I say, we're honest people. I wish they would just make this one exception."

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Lions To Join Big 3 In Bailout Plea

Detroit, MI. (Nov. 25) - The NFL's Detroit Lions, 0-11 this season and 31-92 since 2001, will venture to Capitol Hill on December 2 in an effort to be included in the Big Three automakers' bid for a government bailout.

"The Lions have been a part of Detroit for almost as long as the Big Three," said Lions chief operating officer Tom Lewand. "And not once have we asked Congress for help."

Lewand said the Lions' existence in the NFL should not be imperiled.

"Well, look at all the joy and wins we've provided other teams in the league, number one," he said.

According to sources, Lions representatives will fly to Washington along with the chairmen of Ford, Chrysler, and General Motors. On Capitol Hill, as the Big Three present their business plans going forward, the Lions will make a push for a $1 billion loan, designed to enable them to hire competent executives, "legitimate" NFL players, and marketing gurus who will spin the team's piss-poor record this decade.

Senator Chris Dodd (D-Ct), who chairs the Finance Committee, was leery of yet another bailout plea.

"When will it end?," Dodd said. "The Detroit Lions are a part of the fabric of the NFL, but it might be best for them to go under, reorganize, then come back with a plan for recovery. We can't just give them a blank check."

Lewand countered Dodd's comments.

"What fan will buy tickets to see a football team in bankruptcy? What about the season ticket holders? How can they be assured that their investment is protected?"

Football observers differ on the necessity of the Lions in the NFL.

"I say let them fail and let's move on," said Jay Glaser of "They're a joke and they make the whole league look silly. This has been going on for a long time, and they're only now asking for help? Clearly they were in denial."

But Chris Mortensen of ESPN disagreed.

"Look, every league needs a doormat," Mortensen said. "For every Gallant, you need a Goofus. If nothing else, the Lions offer comic relief for a battle-torn country, and wins for every other team in the league. Why kill the smiles they offer?"

Mortensen says he's in favor of a bailout, but that Lions executives must take "severe" salary cuts, and retool themselves for the future.

"I'd like to see better scouting, drafting, and coaches with a clue," Mortensen said. "I want to see them succeed, but they'd better not be back in Washington five years from now asking for another handout."

Dodd said that it was ironic that the Lions were asking for help now.

"We were just about to start legislation prohibiting them from continuously ruining the sacred American holiday of Thanksgiving," Dodd said.

The Lions host the 10-1 Tennessee Titans on Thursday in the traditional Thanksgiving Day game, a tradition that, thanks to the Lions, "Actually destroys far more appetites than it encourages," Dodd said.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Donovan McNabb Thinks Eagles And Bengals Get To Play Again

Cincinnati, OH (Nov. 17) - In the wake of the Philadelphia Eagles' 13-13 tie with the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday, Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb expressed some confusion over the NFL rules regarding tie games.

At first, McNabb indicated that he didn't know the game would end in a tie after the 15-minute overtime session failed to produce a winner, believing that the game would continue ad infinitum, like a playoff game. But even after being explained that rule, McNabb quickly showed that he still had difficulties grasping the whole idea of tie games.

"So...we play again, right?," McNabb asked reporters. "I mean, that don't just end in a tie, right? We play [the Bengals] again...right?"

McNabb moved through the locker room, asking various players if they thought the tie meant that the Eagles and Bengals will have a rematch.

When everyone he asked assured him that the game was indeed a tie and nothing more, McNabb wasn't satisfied.

"Aww, man -- no way! Quit pulling my leg. Really, seriously -- when do we play them again? Next week? At the end of the season? When?"

Again, McNabb was told that the game would be officially recorded as a tie.

"Really? I could have sworn that we get to play them again," McNabb said, aghast. He then walked away from reporters, muttering, "A tie...that's some s**t."

Earlier, McNabb had queried reporters about several other matters, including why punt returners could raise their hands and not be tackled; why the clock stops on certain plays, wondering why they were always plays that ended up out of bounds; and why "there aren't any points given out for a touchback."

Monday, November 10, 2008

Report: 88% Of Dolphins Fans Think Team's Coach Is Tony Soprano

Miami, FL. (Nov. 10) - The surprising Miami Dolphins, just one year removed from finishing 1-15, are 5-4 and are one of the surprises in the NFL. But a recent report revealed that nearly 90 percent of the team's fan base thinks it's all due to new head coach Tony Soprano, of the HBO hit show The Sopranos.

"It's rather shocking," said Richard Lieberthal of the Hansley Institute, which did the study. "Almost nine out of ten fans we polled -- and we polled about 5,000 -- think the Dolphins are coached by Tony Soprano. And they give a huge amount of credit both to president Bill Parcells for hiring 'Soprano', and to 'Soprano' himself, of course."

The Dolphins' real coach is Tony Sparano, hired by Parcells last January.

But the fans clearly are enamored with Soprano, the fictional character played by James Gandolfini, and some samplings of their comments recorded during the study reflect that.

"The Dolphins needed toughness, and they got it with Soprano," one fan said. "There's no better motivator than the threat of being whacked after practice."

Lieberthal said that not only do the fans think Soprano is the coach, they encourage their team's coach's "connections" to organized crime.

"There seems to be a tolerance of what they think is a pipeline to the Mafia in Miami," Lieberthal said. "And after the recent losing, Dolphins fans "welcome any perceived advantage that having a coach with mob connections brings", he added.

Lieberthal said the study also indicated that nearly 65 percent of Dolphins fans believe that Soprano's assistant coaches, or "lieutenants", recruited draft choices by "any means necessary", including kidnapping players' family members and sending them dead rats in the mail. But, Lieberthal said, more than 90 percent of these people also believed these tactics to be "acceptable", considering the Dolphins' recent record.

Fans also believe that banished defensive end Jason Taylor "went for a ride", and has been replaced with an impostor in Washington.

Lieberthal said that over 70 percent of fans believe some of the Dolphins' wins this season have come because of bribes, paid by Soprano and his lieutenants to game officials. Again, these bribes are supported, according to the study.

Despite the winning, Dolphins fans are also looking ahead to a time when the losing might return.

"Nearly three out of every four fans think that if Soprano doesn't take the Dolphins to the playoffs by 2009 at the latest, then his family should be killed," Lieberthal said.

Monday, November 3, 2008

NBA Rookie Dreams Of Being Intentionally Fouled Someday

Minneapolis, MN (Nov. 3) - Minnesota Timberwolves rookie power forward Kevin Love has many challenges ahead of him. But first on his list is to, one day, be intentionally fouled.

"I've been a Shaquille O'Neal fan ever since he entered the league," Love said yesterday after practice. "I can't even imagine, sometimes, being like him -- getting fouled on purpose because of piss-poor free throw shooting. To be the center of attention like!"

Love says he works with T-Wolves coaches frequently, trying to lower his free throw percentage to a point that starts to "make some noise" around the NBA.

"To me, if I'm not going to be sought out on the floor by the other team during crunch time so that my brick free throws are a factor, then I don't want to be in the league," Love added. "It's as simple as that."

Timberwolves rookie Kevin Love, practicing to be a poor free throw shooter in high school

Love says that all the accolades and championships he may garner would be great, but would "pale in comparison" to being a player that other teams constantly send to the free throw line late in games.

"I mean, that's where it's at," Love explained. "Shaq can't play forever."

Love says his research -- and his agent -- tells him that there really is no one anointed as O'Neal's successor when it comes to intentional hacking.

"It's wide open, as far as I'm concerned," Love said. "It's all there for the taking. Whomever is able to bring their free throw percentage at or below fifty percent is going to be that 'don't go-to guy' late in games."

To that end, Love has drastically changed his mechanics at the free throw line, adopting a one-handed, unsteady, "girly" way of shooting.

"Kevin kind of took Shaq's signature, horrible mechanics and added his own twist to it," says T-Wolves assistant coach Dean Cooper. "It's a style that really shouldn't be very successful, at least not with any consistency. Kevin really should be one of the kids we watch as being the next Shaq when it comes to fouling on purpose."

Love says he's eager to finally meet O'Neal in person. What would he say to the future Hall of Famer?

"Thank you," Love said. "I'd thank him for paving the way for the younger big men, like me, who have no intention on ever being a good free throw shooter."

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Detroit Lions "Encouraged" After Pass In Practice Gains 20 Yards

Allen Park, MI. (Oct. 30) - The winless Detroit Lions expressed guarded optimism after a pass in yesterday's practice from quarterback Dan Orlovsky to receiver Calvin Johnson gained a "good" 20 yards.

"It might have been more -- like maybe 22, 23 yards," said head coach Rod Marinelli. "But it was a good 20 yards, for sure."

After a succession of passes resulted in drops, interceptions, or just plain being thrown nowhere near a receiver, Orlovsky yelled, "Let's try one more!" before fading back in the pocket. He then let loose with a "pretty decent" spiral, according to Marinelli, which was slightly behind Johnson. But the second-year receiver, in an effort praised by those who saw it as "top notch", "brilliant", and "amazing", managed to catch it despite the pass's less-than-perfect location.

Though the pass came in "non-contact drills", meaning that no defenders were on the field at the time, the Lions released a statement in which the team said it was "encouraged" by the pass completion.

"This afternoon in practice, quarterback Dan Orlovsky completed a 20-to-25 yard pass to receiver Calvin Johnson. While we are encouraged by this achievement in the offense's development, there is still much work to do," the statement said.

After a series of chest bumps, high-fives and hugs, some of the offensive players dumped a bucket of Gatorade over Marinelli's head.

Practice, however, was extended moments later when the field goal unit failed to execute a snap. But Marinelli pointed out that punt returner Mike Furrey fair caught a punt "without incident", and that the team would keep "working hard."

When asked about his team's chances this Sunday at Chicago, Marinelli said, "Let's just see if we can do a damned handoff first, then come talk to me."

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Bad Economy Forces NBA To Charge For Foul Shots

New York, NY (Oct. 28) - Citing itself as another victim of a sluggish economy, the NBA announced yesterday that, effective immediately, it would be eliminating free throws.

Starting with tonight's regular season openers, players whistled for fouls will be charged a "nominal" fee for every foul shot taken as a result of their infractions.

"The NBA hasn't charged for foul shots since the league's inception in 1946," said league spokesman Mark Harrison. "We think that's pretty good. But these trying economic times have begun to effect us as a league, too. That means looking for other revenue streams."

The free throw has been a basketball institution since the sport's beginning. Harrison said he appreciates the shot's history, but "that and a quarter will get you a cup of coffee. Correction: that and a dollar will get you a cup of coffee, nowadays."

Under the plan, hastily arranged amidst the release of the league's third quarter numbers, which showed a severe lack of basketball-generated revenue during games -- that is, revenue not tied to concession or beer sales -- every foul shot awarded before a team is in the penalty situation will come at a cost of $2.00 to the fouling player. After the penalty (fifth team foul in a quarter and beyond), each foul shot will cost the offending player $3.00.

Harrison said this would add anywhere from $50-60 into the NBA coffers per game. Multiplied by the 1,230 games played in a season league-wide, this amounts to anywhere between $61,500 and $73,800 per season.

"That's some change," Harrison said.

When reporters challenged him, wondering how $70,000 could make much of a difference in a league whose players salaries are in the millions, Harrison snapped, "Oh, so I guess you're all economy experts now, huh? Why don't you fix this financial crisis, economy experts?"

Early response to the elimination of free throws has been mixed.

"That's fine, but what about the guys on the bench?," wondered little-used Detroit Pistons guard Arron Afflalo. "We don't have the dough that the big dogs do, and we're the ones who commit the most fouls, per minute played. This sounds like trickle-down economics at its worst."

But Cleveland Cavaliers superstar LeBron James had another viewpoint.

"I'm tired of getting hacked all the time, man. Maybe now, those guys will think twice about bothering me as I go in for a layup," he said. James also scoffed at the notion that the fee is too small to make a difference. "NBA players are cheap. Trust me," he said.

The plan will also include cash registers on press row, complete with debit/credit card machines for convenient, on-site payment of fouling fees. To cushion the blow, Harrison said, each player will be allowed to choose which funny cartoon character appears on his Foul Card, ranging from Scooby Doo to Porky Pig. Fees will be collected after every quarter, with ball boys being assigned the additional duty of swiping all players' cards through the machines.

Harrison said that, depending on the success of the new fouling fees program, the league might consider charging TV analyst Bill Walton for every inane, self-contradicting thought that spills out of his mouth. Harrison said that such a move is attractive because of its "unlimited potential as a moneymaker."

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Chad Ocho Cinco To Change Number To 86

Cincinnati, OH. (Oct. 21) - Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Chad Ocho Cinco, formerly Chad Johnson, has changed his uniform number to 86, according to team officials.

"Eighty-five's not workin', ya know?," Ocho Cinco told reporters who gathered at his locker after the change was announced. "We don't got no wins, man."

The Bengals are 0-7.

Johnson earlier this year changed his name, legally, to Ocho Cinco in honor of the Spanish pronunciation of his uniform number, 85. When asked what this means now that his number is 86, Ocho Cinco stopped applying his underarm deodorant, gazed off into the distance for several seconds, then scowled.

"Aww, man! Damn!," he screamed, tossing the deodorant onto the floor.

Ocho Cinco was then seen scrambling toward his car, mumbling something about "calling my damn lawyer again."

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Red Sox Hire Stephen King To Write Rest Of ALCS

Boston, MA. (Oct. 14) - Frustrated with their inability to shoo away the Tampa Bay Rays in the American League Championship Series, the Boston Red Sox have struck a deal with horror story author and longtime Red Sox fan Stephen King to pen the remainder of the best-of-seven series.

The series, which the Rays now lead, 2-1, thanks to a 9-1 win in Game 3 in Boston, will now head for a bone-chilling, gripping climax that "only Stephen King can provide," according to Red Sox spokesman Matt Stewart.

"It's going to be something you'll never forget," Stewart said this morning at team headquarters. "There'll be internal struggles set as a backdrop to some pretty freaking scary plot devices," Stewart said, referring to King's script, which is "in process."

The best-selling author got the hurry-up call in the sixth inning of Game 3, instructed by Red Sox owner John Henry to "whip something up" in time for tonight's Game 4. Sources close to King said that the writer was up all night working on the treatment for the script of the rest of the series.

Red Sox fan and horror writer Stephen King does some research for his new ALCS project, set to debut tonight on Fox Sports

Insiders indicated that Rays outfielder B.J. Upton and rookie third baseman Evan Longoria will make a bad turn and wander into a dark, desolate part of the Tampa Bay clubhouse, where they will meet a "grisly yet ironic demise." The sources also told reporters to look for a crazed, deranged Red Sox fan who "will stop at nothing to further his agenda", as well as a subplot featuring Red Sox slugger David Ortiz's relationship with a female friend "careening out of control." Several different players, wives, girlfriends, and team officials will all have their lives intersect during the climactic Game 7 -- a game in which spectators will not be allowed admittance after the fourth inning.

King has told insiders that his vision for the rest of the series includes some of the games being played in thunderstorms and in the woods.

"This will be the Red Sox's best ALCS ever," Stewart crowed of King's involvement in the outcome.

Any Ray player or official, or umpire, who tries to interfere with King's version of the rest of the series will be captured and confined to a bed by Kathy Bates, Stewart said.

King's vehicle, titled Stephen King's ALCS: No Rays Of Light, will open at 8:07 p.m. tonight on Fox Sports.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Rams' Punter: "Just Give Me the Damn Ball!"

St. Louis, MO. (Oct. 10) - St. Louis Rams punter Donnie Jones, frustrated over his team's 0-4 start, has issued an ultimatum to his teammates and coaches: Just give me the damn ball.

"I'm all about winning, man," Jones told reporters at an impromptu press conference after practice yesterday. "This isn't about Donnie Jones. Donnie Jones just wants to win. Donnie Jones wants what's best for the St. Louis Rams."

In that spirit, Jones says that the Rams' best chances of beating the Washington Redskins in Washington this Sunday lie on his right foot.

"I'll pooch punt those guys (Redskins) to death," Jones said, speaking animatedly. "Just get me to the 45 yard line. That's all I need. Then the game of field position will be ours. Totally. I'm not even joking."

Jones calls himself the Rams' "best chance" at victory

Jones said that as long as the Rams keep failing to convert third downs, the better off the team will be.

"I know it sounds weird, but trust me on this: Donnie Jones will win the game for the Rams if they just give Donnie Jones the ball on 4th down," Jones said before adding, "But you gotta get off the field, now. Donnie Jones can't help by standing on the sidelines."

Jones went so far as to make a suggestion "out of the box."

"If we have to punt on third down, second down, whatever, then I'm OK with that," he said. "Donnie Jones is ready, no matter what down it is."

Jones reasons that the more he punts, the less tired the Rams' offense will be, setting them up for some late-game heroics.

"The Redskins won't have no field position, that's for sure," Jones said brashly. "Then, late in the game, Donnie Jones is willing to stand on the sidelines on fourth down for a game-winning field goal."

When it was pointed out that the Rams have been outscored, 147-43, and haven't lost a game by less than 17 points thus far, Jones refused to back off his statements.

"That was before Donnie Jones asked for the ball, gentlemen," he said. "I got me some coffin corner kicks in my bag -- you just wait."

Jones then joined his Rams teammates in the locker room, who, upon being told of the punter's comments, savagely beat him. He's listed as "day-to-day."

Thursday, October 2, 2008

DeMarcus Ware: "I Don't WANT To Sack Anyone, But I Will If I Have To"

Dallas, TX. (Oct. 2) - Dallas Cowboys linebacker/defensive end DeMarcus Ware, who was third in the NFL last year in sacks, says that performing that role is one that he doesn't relish, but realizes is necessary.

"Look, I don't WANT to sack anyone," Ware said after practice yesterday. "But I will if I have to. If quarterbacks would just learn to get rid of the damn ball. And if those offensive linemen would only learn how to handle my spin move and bull rush -- then none of this sacking business would be going on."

Ware expressed remorse at the number of sacks he has been accumulating -- 37.5 and counting in his young, four-year career -- and knows it must have a "terrible" effect on the quarterbacks, the linemen, and their families.

"I usually tell the dude after I've slammed his sorry ass into the turf after a sack: 'This hurts me a lot more than it hurts you'," Ware said. "But it's tough love, you know?"

Ware says he sometimes fantasizes of a world "where there would be no need for sacking and we could all just co-exist peacefully but competitively on the football field for all to see." But, he acknowledged, "That world is probably not likely in my lifetime. Maybe my children or grand-children will see it, though."

In Dallas's game against Washington last Sunday, Ware sacked Redskins quarterback Jason Campbell.

"He felt awful," Campbell said of Ware. "His eyes welled up and he kind of choked out, 'Damn you, Jason Campbell! Why'd you make me go and do that?'"

Redskins tackle Chris Samuels, who Ware beat with an "up and under move" to sack Campbell, said Ware was quite apologetic.

An emotionally distraught DeMarcus Ware forces himself to sack another quarterback, much to his chagrin

"On the way back to the huddle he said, 'Chris -- please jam me under my neck with your forearm next time. Please -- I beg you'," Samuels said, recounting Ware's words. "He was really shaken. You could tell that sacking the quarterback gives him no pleasure at all. None."

Ware reiterated that yesterday. In fact, when shown video of the Campbell sack, Ware took a deep breath, sighed, looked skyward, and then squeezed his nose, between the eyes, to stop the stem of tears. Then he asked for a moment to compose himself before commenting.

"Look at me -- I'm a damn monster! A monster! Oh God, what have I done?," Ware screamed as he kicked over the television monitor. Moments later, Ware was hugged/restrained by head coach Wade Phillips, who was heard cooing, "It's OK, big guy" as Phillips stroked Ware's head.

"When I came to the Cowboys, I told them, 'I'm a good sacker, but I only do it if absolutely necessary'," Ware said, adding that he had hoped "other arrangements" could be made to stall the other team's passing attack.

"DeMarcus sees sacking the quarterback as an ostentatious display of his God-given speed, strength, and cat-like quickness," Phillips said after calming Ware down. "He feels like he shouldn't be exploiting what God has empowered him to do; in other words, a sack should be a last resort."

Ware said he can't believe the NFL hasn't come up with a "viable alternative" to the quarterback sack.

"What are we waiting for? For someone to get hurt?"

Ware said he would continue to do his job, but that he wishes it wouldn't have to come at the expense of anyone.

"I mean, those dudes are people, too," Ware said. "They have families. But don't they see that, before they let me bust through their weak protection schemes?"

Ware added that he almost wishes the NFL would outlaw the forward pass, thus eliminating the need for quarterback sacks altogether.

"A man can dream, can't he?," Ware said before strapping his helmet on and returning to the practice field, where he was later seen kicking backup quarterback Brad Johnson into unconsciousness, as punishment for failing to scramble out of Ware's grasp.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Cubs Panicked That They Might Reach World Series

Chicago, IL (Sept. 30) - Owners of the best record in the National League, and therefore considered the favorites to win the league pennant, the Chicago Cubs are "panicked" that they might actually reach the World Series for the first time in 63 years.

"The Cubs have always been able to look around lately, when they've made the playoffs, and see a far superior opponent within the National League," said ESPN baseball analyst Steve Phillips. "So, it's never really been a question as to whether they'd make the World Series, because there was always a team much better than them in the post-season."

But now, Phillips says, the Cubs are faced with a cold reality.

"I'm hesitant to say this, but the Cubs are the odds-on favorites to make it through the NLDS and NLCS and represent the league in the Fall Classic," Phillips, a former GM of the New York Mets, added.

That prospect, according to sources close to the ballclub, has the Cubs "panicked" and "reeling."

"Look, they've always been the adorable Cubs -- the team who never has a shot, even when they make the playoffs," said a baseball insider who requested anonymity because he's afraid no one would know who he was anyway. "And that was a comfort level for them. Now you have the prospect of the Cubs actually being in the World Series, and for many in that organization, that's simply too terrifying to comprehend."

The Cubs have not won the World Series since 1908 -- 100 years exactly.

"There's a lot of pressure," said Phillips, "to keep that streak alive. There are millions of Cubs fans all over the United States who revel in the fact that their team is the nation's 'Lovable Losers.' Well, how can they be that anymore, if they even qualify for the World Series."

And if they win it?

"Christ almighty," Phillips said.

Cubs manager Lou Piniella assured his team around the All-Star break "not to worry", and that he was "pretty sure" some other team would get hot and supplant the Cubs as post-season favorites in the NL, the source said.

"But then everyone else gets dysfunctional and you have that G**damn West division, who can't get a champion with 85 wins to save its soul, and those f***ing Mets, who collapse like a house of cards every September...," a Cubs front office employee was overheard telling Piniella the other day.

"Great job, Lou! NOW what?," the employee told Piniella in a sarcastic tone.

As a result of their new front runner status, the Cubs hierarchy is set to huddle today to figure out "a way out of this mess," according to the source.

Some proposed suggestions include firing Piniella and replacing him with Cindy, the bartender at the Hangge Uppe on Rush Street; letting the Cubs' opponents supply their own pitcher when they bat; and simply not showing up for any of the games -- among other ideas.

Regardless, the Cubs are "kicking themselves" for getting into this mess, the source said.

"It just wasn't supposed to turn out this way -- not with Joe Torre in the league now," the source said, referring to the Dodgers manager who came over from the Yankees. "The Cubs were supposed to be playoff fodder."

The source added that "heads will roll" within the Cubs organization following this "unacceptable debacle."

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Hochuli Offers To "Make Things Right" In Next Chargers Game He Officiates

DeKalb, Ill. (Sept. 23) - NFL referee Ed Hochuli, under fire for admittedly blowing a crucial call against the San Diego Chargers on September 14, has offered to "make things right" the next time he officiates a Chargers game, according to sources.

"I'll take care of it," Hochuli was quoted as saying to Chargers head coach Norv Turner in a text message late last week, one of the sources said. "Don't worry. I'm going to make things right," Hochuli texted.

"No one feels worse about this than Ed," said NFL spokesman Greg Aiello. "So it doesn't surprise me that he wants to make up for his blunder," Aiello continued in the wake of the news of Hochuli's offer.

Hochuli incorrectly ruled that a fumble by Denver Broncos QB Jay Cutler was an incomplete pass, giving the Broncos new life late in their game with the Chargers. The Broncos went on to score the game-winning touchdown after Hochuli's mistake.

"I have shamed myself and my profession," were just some of the words Hochuli used publicly to admonish himself the day after the game. "If I had a gun right now, I'd probably shoot myself in the brain," Hochuli also said. "But, absent that, I'll just have to make it right. I just HAVE to."

Hochuli apparently wasn't just paying lip service. The sources said that, in addition to texting Turner, Hochuli has put a "big, red circle" around his next Chargers assignment -- October 19 in Buffalo -- with the intention of "making sure" the Chargers get a "fair shake -- if you know what I mean," the sources quoted Hochuli as he spoke to a friend.

The friend says that Hochuli plans on making it "ridiculously hard" for the Chargers to lose their Oct. 19 game in Buffalo.

"He feels terrible. Believe me, you'll see just how terrible Ed feels," the friend said, referring to Hochuli's planned performance in Buffalo.

Another source said that Hochuli has some things "up his sleeve", which may include some ill-timed roughing the passer calls against the Bills, a "back-breaking" holding call or two, and, if necessary, calling a Chargers field goal good, even if it isn't.

"He feels it's the least he can do," the friend said.

Turner, when reached for comment about the supposed text messages from Hochuli, would only say, "I have complete confidence in the integrity and fairness of Ed Hochuli. Especially now. I mean, ESPECIALLY now," Turner said with a wink and a smirk.

NFL referee Ed Hochuli (left), crafts a suicide letter immediately after September 14's game between the Chargers and the Broncos. He later eschewed the idea

Thursday, September 18, 2008

0-2 Chiefs Change QB, Offensive Coordinator, Playbook, Head Usher, Socks, Color Scheme, Receptionist, Official Gum In Big Shake-Up

Kansas City, MO. (Sept. 18) - Calling the team's 0-2 start "unacceptable", Kansas City Chiefs chairman Clark Hunt said the team's shake up wouldn't stop at changing quarterbacks.

In addition to replacing former starting QB Damon Huard with Tyler Thigpen for this Sunday's tilt with the Atlanta Falcons, Hunt said that offensive coordinator Chan Gailey would be replaced by former Chiefs great Len Dawson. But the changes don't end there.

The team's playbook, which had been in a red, 3" three-ring binder separated by rainbow-colored dividers and yellow tabs, will be replaced by a sleeker, "more leathery" spiral binder with, what Hunt called, "very cool" pockets in both the front and back.

The shake up also includes the replacement of longtime head usher Fred Garrison with Thomas Hewitt, an aggressive, 26-year-old "up-and-coming" usher who Hunt said would take the team's ushering in a "bold, new direction." Hunt said Hewitt will make ushering "fun again", and Hunt promised "more and friendlier" usher-fan interaction.

"I think part of our inability to win has been due to a confrontational relationship between our team and its fan base," Hunt said in explaining the change at the top of the usher personnel. "With Tommy, I think we can have more harmony in the stands, which should lead to a more universal acceptance of our team's state right now."

Hunt also announced that the team's socks would change from Hanes to JC Penney, and that the color scheme, which for years had been scarlett and gold, would change to red and mustard.

"The colors of ketchup and mustard," Hunt said. "Which goes back to making our fans more comfortable to go to our concession stands for hot dogs, guided of course by our friendlier ushers, led by Tommy Hewitt."

Team receptionist Amy Lowell is also out, another victim of the shake up.

"Amy's been great, but it's time to have our visitors greeted by someone more...good looking, frankly. Amy's sweet, but she is kind of dowdy looking."

Hunt said Lowell would be replaced by Heather Kimball, a 21-year-old intern who will take over receptionist duties on September 22.

"Heather's hot," Hunt said.

Heather Kimball, the Chiefs' new receptionist, who will take over on September 22 in a big team shake up

The official gum is also changing, from Big League Chew to Bazooka.

"I love those little comic strips that come with each piece," Hunt explained.

Head coach Herm Edwards, when asked about the huge makeover, said, "I'm all about winning. If Clark Hunt thinks we can neutralize the Falcons' running game and confuse their rookie quarterback, Matt Ryan, wearing JC Penney socks and chewing Bazooka, then I'm on board."

When pressed about the more football-related aspects of the shake up, such as the replacement of Huard by Thigpen, Edwards said, "Oh -- that. Well, yeah. I'm sure that will play into it, too."

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Jeter: New York Yankees Looking Forward To Nice, Quiet October At Home With The Family

New York, NY (Sept. 16) - The New York Yankees, tired and homesick after 13 consecutive years in Major League Baseball's playoffs, are looking forward to a "nice, quiet" October at home with the family, according to captain Derek Jeter.

"The pursuit of another World Series championship has just gotten to be too much work," the star shortstop told reporters gathered around the batting cage before yesterday's game. "I tell you, it'll be nice to cozy up by the fire, make some hot cocoa, and watch the playoffs on television. Yes sir."

Jeter said the years and years of October baseball has "taken a toll."

"There are things in life more important, you know? Sometimes you need to put things into perspective. Just today I was reading about a family whose wireless Internet hookup died, paralyzing them. No YouTube, no IM'ing for them. That's when I thought, 'Here I am, worried about making the damn playoffs, when those folks are wondering how backlogged their e-mail IN boxes are getting.

"Shame on me," Jeter said.

Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter smiles as he talks about "vegging out" with a box of Oreo cookies and watching the playoffs on TV this October

Jeter added that the Yankees decided, in early July, to just "get away from baseball" for awhile, in effect conceding the division championship and wild card spot.

"I'd say just before the All-Star break, we all kind of looked at each other in the clubhouse and said, with our eyes, 'Do we REALLY want to do this again?' It was kind of a cool moment. No words were said. Then we hugged, and everyone got real emotional," Jeter said, adding that after the hugs, the players gathered on the floor, "Indian style", and shared with each other the things they could accomplish, given a baseball-free October.

"It was very heartwarming, to hear things like how Bobby Abreu wants to finally get at that loose cupboard handle in the kitchen, and how Mariano Rivera has longed to go to Oktoberfest in Germany," Jeter said. "Now, we can -- thanks to our resolve and focus to not qualify for the playoffs, at any cost."

Jeter added that he's "looking forward" to the team's mathematical elimination, which is only days away.

"It'll be like a huge weight off our shoulders," he said. "Then we can actually say, 'We did it. We kicked the playoff habit.'"

Yankees acting managing partner Hank Steinbrenner was unavailable for comment regarding Jeter's words, but was reportedly seen chewing on a table leg in his office.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Sacrifice Bunt Hailed As Another Example Of LaRussa's "Genius"

St. Louis, MO. (Sept. 11) - Although it had no bearing on the outcome of the game, and therefore did not prevent the Chicago Cubs from defeating the St. Louis Cardinals, a sacrifice bunt called for by Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa Wednesday night was roundly hailed as the latest example of the longtime skipper's "genius."

"Just when you think you've got the hang of this managing thing, Tony does something like that to remind you why he's Tony LaRussa and you're not," Cubs manager Lou Piniella, himself a veteran manager but not as smart as LaRussa, said in the aftermath of the game, won by the Cubs, 4-3.

The brilliant move came in the bottom of the eighth inning with the Cardinals trailing, 4-1. Sensing his team's offensive sluggishness, LaRussa called for what some baseball observers have described in various terms as a move that was "bold," "daring", and "damn-the-torpedoes" when he signaled for a bunt to be laid down by pinch-hitter Brian Barden.

Runners were on first and second with one out when LaRussa, through a series of hand gestures that the observers said were "dizzying yet precise", signaled for Barden, a 27-year-old just called up from the minors, to execute the bunt.

"I didn't think the bunt was coming because there was already one out," Piniella said afterward, simultaneously admitting his lack of baseball intellect when compared to LaRussa's. "Because even if it was successful, there'd be two outs and they (the Cardinals) hadn't done well in two-out situations all night," Piniella added, further illustrating his stupidity when his mind is up against LaRussa, who has infinite baseball brain power.

Barden squared to bunt as the Busch Stadium crowd gasped. The first pitch from Cubs pitcher Ted Lilly was high and outside. Undaunted, LaRussa again went through a series of gestures, adding such wrinkles as gently tugging his left earlobe, brushing his fingers across his chest, and tapping his nose intermittently.

"That stuff had me reeling," Piniella said of the gestures and non-verbal signals. "I look at Tony and he's doing all this stuff," Piniella said as he tried, futilely, to mimic the gestures to reporters, "and I'm thinking, something bad is about to happen to us, and by extension, to me personally."

The second pitch from Lilly, who appeared slightly rattled, was delivered. Barden again squared to bunt, but then, at the last moment, pulled his bat back even though the pitch was a perfect strike.

"I almost threw up," Piniella said of LaRussa's apparent strategy of having Barden alternately showing bunt and reneging.

Finally, on Lilly's third pitch, which was simply lobbed to the plate because the left-hander was too discombobulated to throw anything else, Barden laid down the bunt, which was described by witnesses as being "good."

Cubs catcher Geovany Soto was able to shake himself from his stupor -- an act that Piniella called "courageous beyond belief" -- and leapt from his catcher's crouch. Soto then pounced on the dribbling baseball, picked it up, and threw to first baseman Derrek Lee, who some say had a "stunned, faraway look" in his eyes, but who was still able to catch the throw from Soto.

The incredibly smart LaRussa weighs the effects of his thinking, moments before terrorizing the Cubs with a sacrifice bunt in the 8th inning of Wednesday's game

The bunt, successful, put runners on second and third with two outs.

"If this was football or basketball, I'd have called a timeout," Piniella said. "You know, to gather ourselves and to make sure we didn't lose our composure."

Instead, Piniella wanted to at least go to the mound to talk to Lilly and his infielders, but found himself "anchored to the bench with fear."

"I simply could not move. I was truly helpless at that point," Piniella said, his voice wavering, clearly not soothed by his team's eventual victory.

Lilly managed to gather himself to face the next batter, Cesar Izturis, and despite his "heart pounding out of his chest", according to Lilly, the pitcher retired Izturis with a flyball to center field.

"My legs were like spaghetti when that inning was over with," Piniella said, a shaky hand reaching for a post-game cup of water. "I'm sorry," he added, excusing himself from his office, leaving reporters to their own devices.

LaRussa, according to team spokesman Louis Harrison, had no comment about the bunt.

"Tony doesn't talk about why he does things, mainly because none of you would understand anyway," Harrison said. "You're all dumb. Baseball dumb."

Too intimidated mentally to argue, the group of reporters all nodded knowingly. One was heard saying, "That's why LaRussa's a genius and we're the idiots writing about him."

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Nationals, Padres To Split Upcoming Three Game Series In Half

Washington, D.C. (Sept. 9) - The last-place Washington Nationals and the equally-as-last-place San Diego Padres have decided to not play their upcoming three-game series in Washington, agreeing instead to award each other 1-1/2 victories in the standings.

"If you can think of one good reason why this series should be played, I'm all ears," said Nationals General Manager Jim Bowden yesterday as he spoke to reporters in the team parking lot, between mouthfuls of a McDonald's Quarter Pounder with Cheese. When that statement was met with silence, Bowden raised his eyebrows and said, "What? Cat got your tongue?"

Sources close to the negotiations said that Nationals and Padres executives held a "two or three minute" conference call Monday and "pretty much decided right away" to take the weekend of September 19-21 off, when the Padres are scheduled to visit the Nationals.

The execs cited several reasons for the cancellations, including "the games don't mean s***"; "who really cares?"; and "we've all got tons to do around the house, with school just starting". Bowden himself, it was reported, expressed a desire to "take in some football" and "not feel guilty about it," as he would if his team was playing that weekend.

Nationals star Ryan Zimmerman, when reached in the same parking lot moments after Bowden drove off, seemed willing to go along with the decision.

"I don't know much about it. I hear we're going to be assigned some stats, so I might hit a home run or two while I'm golfing," Zimmerman said with a chuckle, referring to the plan to "play" the three-game set using the electronic video game "MLB 2008" and putting it into "auto mode."

In the standings, each team will receive 1-1/2 victories. That part of the plan needs MLB approval, though.

"We in the MLB offices really couldn't care less if the Nationals and the Padres play," said spokesman Jeff Treadwell. "But the one-and-a-half wins each thing, we have to think about. Won't that look obvious, and kinda stupid?"

The Nationals and Padres each sport 56-88 records and are deeply burrowed in last place in their respective divisions.

As for the fans who hold tickets for the games, Bowden said, "They will be reimbursed for their costs." Sources say the reimbursement will likely come in the form of Nationals souvenirs and coupons to local retail outlets, and that efforts to reach out to those who hold tickets will begin "soon." When asked how many fans will be affected by the cancellations, the source said, "Gosh...hundreds."

Friday, September 5, 2008

Report: Half of NFL Teams To Make It Through Week 1 Undefeated

New York, NY (Sept. 5) - A report released on the eve of the opening weekend of the NFL season indicates that exactly half of the league's 32 teams will emerge from Week 1 undefeated.

"Statistically there is almost undeniable truth to that notion," said Dr. William Strong of the Hayes-Morgan Institute, which was commissioned by the NFL to do the study. "And, as we've already seen after just one game, that trend is holding true," Dr. Strong added, referring to Thursday night's game between the New York Giants and the Washington Redskins, won by the Giants, 16-7.

The study was asked for to satisfy skeptics who claim that NFL games are fixed.

"How can they be fixed if 50% of the teams will be happy and 50% will not be?", said Dr. Strong.

The study, which lasted six months, covered games played between 1985-2004.

"In those 20 seasons, without fail, half of the teams came away from Week 1 undefeated," Dr. Strong said. "And we saw that trend continue throughout the season."

Dr. Strong said that, although games from 2005-2007 weren't included in the study, he was "confident" that the "50/50 rule" would hold true for those games as well.

The next NFL study that Hayes-Morgan will do will be to determine whether clouds of dust actually materialize after rushing plays that gain three yards.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Amidst Tampa Bay Rays' Turnaround, Pittsburgh Pirates To Change Name To "Rates"

Pittsburgh, PA. (Sept. 4) - Buoyed by the success of the Tampa Bay Rays following their name change, the Pittsburgh Pirates announced that, next season, the team will be known as the Rates.

The Rays, who had been known as the Devil Rays since their debut in 1998, dropped the "Devil" portion of their name and changed uniforms. The team is now enjoying its first winning season ever, and is destined to make the playoffs.

"As steeped in tradition as the Pirates franchise is, that does not mean that we are not willing to change with the times," Pirates spokesman Kenneth Franklin said in announcing the change. Franklin added that the team's colors would change from the age-old black and gold to a more "modern" combination of Sky Blue, black, and Sea Foam.

"We're pleased to announce that, beginning with the 2009 season, the Major League Baseball team in Pittsburgh will be known as the Pittsburgh Rates," Franklin said, reading a prepared statement at a press conference in the lobby of the team office. "We are dropping 'Pi' from our name, in keeping with the 21st century baseball fan's desire for sleeker, more streamlined nicknames."

The Pirates have not qualified for the playoffs since 1992, and have not had a winning season since '92, either. They hope to reverse those trends with the new name.

Franklin said the name wouldn't be pronounced with a long "a", is in "prime rates", but would be in keeping with the second syllable of "Pirates", thus meaning the new name will be pronounced "Rets," with a short "e".

"Rhyming with 'bets'," Franklin explained.

The team's logo will also change, as the franchise will part ways with the familiar Pirate, or Buccaneer, and change to something that is "to be announced."

"First, we need to determine exactly what a 'Rate' is, and how it should be portrayed," Franklin said.

He said the team will hold a contest, soliciting fans' visions of what a Rate is.

Early rumors indicated that the decision on a new logo has already been made, negating the need for a contest. Sources say the contenders are: an image of Gone With the Wind hero Rhett Butler; a rat; dollar signs; Willie Stargell; and a python.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Local Man Rooting For Yankees To Make Playoffs Just So He Can See Them Lose In Them

Findlay, OH. (Aug. 28) - Baseball fan and Findlay resident Matt Garces, according to friends and family, desperately wants the New York Yankees to qualify for the playoffs, hoping beyond hope that the storied franchise can make up a seven-game deficit in the season's final weeks.

The reason? So Garces can see the Yankees "go down" in the post-season.

"The Yankees haven't missed the playoffs since 1994," Garces told his brother, Mark, the other day at dinner. "They haven't won the World Series since 2000. I love it when the Yankees make the playoffs and lose. It rocks," Mark Garces told reporters of his 24-year-old brother's remarks.

Mark Garces, 22, said that Matt's sentiments are that "it's just not the playoffs without the Yankees in it, under-achieving and being upset by a weaker opponent." Mark said his brother reveled in last season's charge, in which the Yankees played superbly after the All-Star break and made the playoffs as the American League Wild Card. Then, to Matt's delight, the Yankees were eliminated by the Cleveland Indians in the Divisional Series, 3-1. The year before that, Matt threw a party after the Detroit Tigers beat the Yankees, 3-1, in the ALDS.

"He just hates the Yankees so much," Mark said. "It goes back to when he was a kid and we went to an Indians game, and the Yankees won in extra innings. That, plus, well, who DOESN'T hate the Yankees, outside of New York?"

Matt Garces, shown during his 2006 party after the Yankees lost to the Tigers in the playoffs

Mark Garces says that his brother is in "scoreboard watching mode", tracking the Boston Red Sox -- who lead the Yankees for the Wild Card spot -- and going through all sorts of rituals, hoping the Red Sox will lose and the Yankees can overtake them.

"He was up all night yesterday, crafting a crude Mike Lowell voodoo doll," Matt's father Richard confirmed. "He now has voodoo dolls of almost all the Red Sox starting position players. In September he'll work on the pitching staff."

Richard Garces says that Matt holds no ill will against the Red Sox.

"It's not an anti-Boston thing, just a pro-Yankee thing -- until the playoffs," Matt's father said.

Mark said that his brother has gotten "accustomed" to seeing the Yankees fail in the playoffs and/or World Series, and considers the team's fall failures of recent years "comfy and cozy."

"Matt says that it just won't be fall without the Yankees crushing their fans' hopes in the playoffs," Mark said. "That, and he hates Rudy Giuliani."

"That's another story," Richard Garces said of the Giuliani thing, rolling his eyes. "You don't want to hear it."

Monday, August 25, 2008

Giants To Ask 1986 Team To Come Out Of Retirement, Just To Be Safe

East Rutherford, NJ (Aug. 25) - Stung by the loss of defensive end Osi Umenyiora for the season to injury, and with the pressure to return to the Super Bowl mounting, the New York Giants have not only asked DE Michael Strahan to come out of retirement, but are on the verge of asking the entire 1986 team to do so as well.

The '86 Giants, who routed the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XXI, are seen as the "safest" backup plan, with injuries mounting and continued distrust in quarterback Eli Manning festering.

"Given the events of the past few days, and with young Eli still trying to prove to his detractors that last year was no fluke, we feel that the 1986 Giants offer a solid, trustworthy fortification to this year's squad," Giants co-owner Steve Tisch said in a statement released this morning. Tisch added that '86 QB Phil Simms "has way more credibility", at this juncture, than Manning, and that Simms elicits more trust in his teammates than Manning. "But this is no slap in Eli's face," team spokesman Dennis Ribant said. "This will take a lot of pressure off Eli. He can learn from Phil."

The '86 Giants will assume pretty much all roster spots for now, until head coach Tom Coughlin and his staff "have a better comfort level" with the '08 squad, according to Ribant.

Strahan, who retired after the Giants' Super Bowl upset over the New England Patriots last February, agreed to consider coming out of retirement after Umenyiora suffered a season-ending knee injury against the Jets over the weekend. But while Strahan mulled it over, sources say that Tisch decided to go "one step further" and bring back the 1986 championship squad.

"Steve doesn't do things half-ass," said friend Barry Heller. "If he's going to start bringing Giants players out of retirement, then you can bet he'll bring the best of the best. No pussy-footing around," Heller said of the resurrection of the '86 Giants.

Current Giants running back Brandon Jacobs says he welcomes the input of new teammate Joe Morris, 47, the team's leading rusher in 1986.

"How can I NOT learn from someone like Joe?," Jacobs told reporters in the locker room yesterday. "Why, just a few minutes ago, Joe was telling me things about fluid on the knee and post-concussion syndrome that I had no clue about. And I'm sure that when he called me 'Honey', it was just a term."

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Report: Area Kid About To "Put Someone's Eye Out"

DeKalb, Ill. (Aug. 19) - According to sources close to him -- namely, his mother -- local 12-year-old Brian Martin is "about to put someone's eye out", unless he stops playing stick ball in the alley behind their apartment building.

"I'm telling you, that boy just doesn't listen," an exasperated Marie Martin told reporters gathered in front of the family's apartment building on Russo Street, just north of Maple. "The way he swings that stick...," she said before failing to finish the sentence, shaking her head.

Stick ball, a bastardized version of baseball, is played with a large stick, which is swung, baseball-bat style, at a hurled object. In Brian's case, he and his friends have been using a hollow plastic ball they found in the Dumpster behind the Rexall Drugs.

Brian Martin, engaging in another activity that's not "mother approved"

Martin and four area youngsters were engaged in the stick ball game around two o'clock yesterday afternoon when Martin's mother saw them as she took out the trash. Once she saw the haphazard way the boys were swinging the stick -- a broken branch from a nearby maple tree -- Marie Martin immediately called a halt to the action, an act which embarrassed Brian "like crazy", according to his friends.

That's when Brian's mother made the inference that someone's eye would be "put out", indicating that the stick would be flung, fly out of the boy's hands, and impale itself into the eye socket of one of his friends, thus robbing the victim of vision in that eye, which would then have to be removed and replaced with a glass eye.

Though no recorded instances of such a thing actually occurring exist, Marie Martin refused to retract her warning when asked by reporters.

"The stick swinging is too dangerous," she said. When pressed as to why, she responded, firmly, "Because I said so."

Speculation arose that Brian Martin may seek an injunction against his mother's stick ball ban by appealing to his father, but Louis Martin is divorced from Brian's mother and thus only sees him every other weekend. So, any hope for an overruling will have to wait until this Saturday, at the earliest.

Louis Martin could not be reached for comment, according to his friend, Misty Summers.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Area Man Attends Ballgame, Doesn't Care If He Ever Gets Back

Kansas City, MO (Aug. 12) - Kansas City Royals baseball fan Martin Pierson continues to remain at Kauffman Stadium, nearly 48 hours after the conclusion of Sunday's game against the Minnesota Twins.

"Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack!," Pierson demanded from stadium employees who tried to remove him yesterday, more than 18 hours after the Twins' 4-1 victory over the Royals on Sunday afternoon. "Then we'll talk."

But then, after team officials were encouraged that Pierson would leave if provided with the requested snacks, the 28-year-old fan threw another wrinkle into the situation.

"I don't care if I EVER get back," Pierson said, apparently referring to his suburban Kansas City home.

Pierson, who, according to his ex-girlfriend, is a musician, attended Sunday's game with his brother-in-law Phillip Mooney and his nephew, Skip. But Pierson had driven separately, and told Mooney and his son that he would be "along in a minute." Mooney told police that the plan was for Pierson to follow Mooney home for a post-game meal.

Pierson on Monday at Kauffman Stadium -- about 24 hours after the Royals' loss to the Twins on Sunday afternoon

"But he never showed up," Mooney said, according to transcripts of his interview with Kansas City police.

Mooney, when reached by reporters last night, said that Pierson was enjoying himself, "as usual", and nothing seemed amiss.

"The only thing that was odd was when he said, 'If the Royals don't win, it's a shame', " Mooney said of Pierson's cryptic comments in the eighth inning, the Royals trailing by three runs. "Because Martin is a die-hard Royals fan. But he said it casually, and with almost a twinkle in his eye."

When Skip Mooney, 5, asked his uncle why Royals catcher John Buck was headed back to the dugout, the bat in his hands, Pierson said, "Because it's one, two, three strikes you're out at the old ballgame," according to the elder Mooney, after Buck had struck out in the sixth inning.

Police said they hope to remove Pierson from the stadium in time for the Royals' next home game, August 22 against Detroit, but it wasn't clear how they would accomplish that without using force.

"He's actually a nice guy," said police spokesman Leonard Hoffman. "I hope he just leaves on his own volition. But boy, he can pack down the peanuts and Cracker Jack."

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Yankees, Red Sox To Merge, Form "Mega Team"

New York, NY. (Aug 6) - Realizing that their nearly century-long rivalry has become counter-productive, MLB's New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox announced that they will merge by the end of 2008 and become a more fan-friendly "mega team".

"It's time to bring out the peace pipe," said Red Sox owner John Henry, flanked at a press conference in front of MLB offices in Manhattan by Yankees vice chairman Hank Steinbrenner. "After many long, hard years -- indeed, decades -- of trying to best each other, we felt that our forces are much more powerful and intimidating when joined," Henry added.

"So it is with great pleasure that I announce to you the formation of the New York/Boston Yankee Sox," Henry said as a crowd of pre-selected well-wishers applauded and cheered.

Steinbrenner echoed Henry's sentiments.

"Why get at each other's throats when we can just slice those of our competitors?," Steinbrenner wondered aloud.

Under the merger, the Yankee Sox will play half their home games at Fenway Park in Boston, and half at the new Citi Park in New York, which is set to open in 2009. They'll combine rosters, coaches, and even ushers.

"It's an amicable joining -- 50/50, right down the line," Henry said. Current Yankees manager Joe Girardi will skipper games played in New York, while Red Sox manager Terry Francona will take the reins in Boston games. Current star players like Alex Rodriguez, David Ortiz, and Derek Jeter "will just have to come up with some sort of schedule" as far as who plays which games at which positions, Henry said. But Henry conceded that the merged roster will be "a joy" for Girardi and Francona to manage.

"Now, Joe or Terry can rest Jason Varitek at catcher and play Pudge Rodriguez," Steinbrenner said. "Or remove Mike Lowell for a pinch-hitter, which could be Jason Giambi.

"The possibilities are endless."

Henry said the idea for joining forces came out of an innocent phone call he placed to Steinbrenner after a recent Yankees-Red Sox game.

"I had had a few, I admit," Henry said, chuckling. "But I just said to Hank, 'Even I'm sick of the Red Sox and the Yankees. Why don't we shake things up a bit?' It just took off from there."

Steinbrenner, himself admitting to having had "3 or 4" gin and tonics by that time, suggested a merger.

"I don't know if he was serious or not, but I said, 'F**k yeah -- why not?', " according to Henry.

The next day, the two men met at a Starbucks "about halfway" between New York and Boston, and scribbled the preliminary plan on a "small, college ruled notebook" that Henry had brought, "just in case."

Henry shared the scribbled notes with reporters, holding it up then passing it around. On it were randomly scrawled words such as "Red Yankees?"; "Bosyork?"; "New Boston?"; "red pinstripes?"; and "TOTAL WORLD DOMINATION", which was written in bigger letters and followed by several exclamation points.

Baseball commissioner Bud Selig issued a statement that read, in part: "Major League Baseball, while saddened that the famed Yankees-Red Sox rivalry is now a thing of the past, is nonetheless eager to see this new 'mega team' formed by this merger. Mergers are becoming more of the norm in today's society, and we urge baseball fans to embrace this new partnership. If nothing else, it'll make it easier for those fans who hate both the Yankees and the Red Sox -- since now they'll only have to spend their energy hating one team."

Selig's office admitted, however, that the merger might have a short-term affect on television ratings, as there will no longer be anymore Yankees-Red Sox games to televise. However, there is early talk of airing great Yankees-Red Sox games of the past.

Also announced was a combining of the two storied franchises' histories -- with re-worked tales of Babe Ruth and Ted Williams fishing together in the mid-1940s being "worked on" currently. Future stories will include hilarious, wild antics of Billy Martin, Mickey Mantle, Bobby Doerr, and Johnny Pesky carousing together in alcoholic stupors.

To bring the American League back up to 14 teams, MLB announced that the Tampa Bay Rays would be broken up into two teams -- the Tampa Devils and the Bay Rays. That suggestion was also made by Henry and Steinbrenner, the news of which didn't surprise baseball analysts. At press time, Henry was trying to make that change effective as soon as next week, or at least before the end of the regular season.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Groups Of NFL Players Start Their Own "Fantasy Office" League

Allen Park, MI. (Aug. 1) - It's becoming a more normal sight -- small groups of NFL players huddling together, but this time huddling off the field. They gather together in their dorm rooms after the day's training camp practices are finished, about to engage in the newest phenomenon in the league: fantasy office.

More and more NFL players are spending their free time drafting and trading office workers across the country, and they are finding this new game to be quite addictive.

"Aww man, you have no idea!," said Detroit Lions linebacker Paris Lenon yesterday as he got ready to settle down with four teammates to discuss possible trades. "The other day I got my aggression out on the field after my boy in Pittsburgh got written up for excessive tardiness," Lenon said of Pittsburgh assistant public relations coordinator Jeremy Lucas, an employee of Weinberg and Associates, who Lenon has as his "sleeper" pick on his fantasy office team, The Staplers.

Lenon and his teammates "own" office workers throughout the country in a variety of fields, ranging from marketing to retail to the recording industry. The workers "cost" varying amounts of money, and each week points are accumulated based on a variety of categories: copy machine knowledge; e-mail efficiency; subordination; promptness; and a special stat called TWO, or Total Worker Output, which is a very complicated statistic that can only be gotten with a specially-programmed computer -- not unlike the quarterback rating in the NFL.

The "holy Grail" for NFL players involved in Fantasy Office leagues is when a worker they own has what is called an Office Busting Week -- one in which the employee scores perfect 10s in all categories. Lenon says he's never had such a week from one of his workers, but added that Memphis, TN office manager Crystal Hennesey came close, with only a "9" in telephone courtesy ruining a possible Office Buster.

Lions player Mike Furrey joined Lenon at the table and was very excited about his recent pickup.

"I found that Matthew Ellison had been cut a few minutes earlier," Furrey said of the 27-year-old tech support assistant manager at Telmix, a software firm in Bakersfield, CA. "I knew that Ellison was very good at Problem Solving, which can carry your team in a bad week. So I snatched him up," Furrey added, although he was saddened to have to cut Gainesville, FL cashier Mary Willingham, who Furrey described as an "up-and-coming" worker. "But you gotta give up something to get something, ya know?", Furrey said.

It pained Furrey to have to cut Gainesville cashier Willingham (above), but had no choice in order to make room for Ellison

Lenon was disgusted by his league's rule that says all workers must be in place and on rosters by 5pm Friday, or else their stats won't count for the following week.

"Everyone knows that things can happen over the weekend," Lenon groused. "A guy could go drinking and get too hungover to come in on Monday, or he takes a three-day weekend and you lose him for Monday. I think 9am Monday would be more fair." Lenon says he plans to take his concerns to league commish Jeff Backus, who also functions as the Lions' starting left tackle.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Peyton Manning Wants To Use A Stunt Double During Exhibition Season

Terre Haute, IN (Jul 30) - Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning, in an effort to keep his body in "tip-top" condition for the 2008 regular season, has asked the team to provide him with a stunt double for all four exhibition games.

"We all know that these games don't mean a hoot," Manning said in his southern drawl during a break in practice. "And everyone knows that if I get hurt, this team is f***ed. Right?"

At that, reporters looked at each other, shrugged, and nodded their heads in agreement.

Manning continued. "Right. So why the hell risk my health on a bunch of meaningless games that no one gives two s**ts about?"

Again the reporters nodded, shrugging.

"So I've asked the Colts to provide me with a stunt double, who will take all snaps and do all scrambling, and absorb all hits, during next month's exhibition schedule," Manning said.

Under Manning's proposal, an athletic man, whose name will not be revealed, will don Manning's no. 18 jersey and pose as the All-Pro signal caller throughout the pre-season. The QB/double will also be someone who has experience doing stunts for movies and television.

"I have a few people in mind right now," Manning said. "During my off-season workouts I met some dudes. They've worked on shows like MacGyver and Walker, Texas Ranger. I've been teaching them how to look like an NFL quarterback. Just like I taught Jim Sorgi," Manning said of his annual, "real" backup.

Manning said that, under his plan, the stunt double would only need to learn how to hand off, because he won't be throwing any passes.

"(Coach) Tony (Dungy) usually pulls me out midway through the first quarter anyway," Manning reasoned. "So it wouldn't look all that odd for 'me' to not throw any passes. Besides, I hate putting all those pads and stuff on in August....I sweat like a pig."

Dungy said he was open to the idea.

"Hey, whatever keeps Peyton fresh so we can win the Super Bowl...that's what's important. Not whether some poor guy pays top dollar for pre-season games so he can see Peyton Manning. Tough cookies."

Monday, July 28, 2008

MLB Player Wishes Team Would "Just Trade Me and Get it Over With Already"

Cleveland, OH (July 28) - Cleveland Indians infielder Jhonny Peralta so believes that he is the next to be traded by the team that he has taken to wandering around the clubhouse before every game, pacing and muttering that he wishes the team would "just do it already."

"Jhonny truly believes he is next," affirmed teammate Grady Sizemore. "He thought he was next before they traded Casey (Blake), but now he's convinced."

The Indians traded Blake to the Dodgers over the weekend.

Teammates have tried to allay his fears, but Peralta cannot be soothed. Even manager Eric Wedge tried to calm him, but to no avail.

"I told him that we have absolutely no thoughts of trading him," Wedge told reporters during batting practice yesterday, as Peralta criss-crossed the field, asking teammates, and reporters, if they've heard anything new. "But he won't have any of it. He just tells me, 'You're just saying that.'"

Peralta has taken to sneaking a peek at General Manager Mark Shapiro's blackberry whenever he can, and has been caught trying to open company e-mail on employees' laptops, all with the belief that every e-mail, every text message, contains details of a trade involving him.

"God just do it!," Sizemore said Peralta screamed in the showers after Saturday night's game. Sizemore added that Peralta then yelled, "I can't TAKE it anymore!"

The non-waiver trading deadline is Thursday afternoon.

Teammates and club officials aren't certain just how Peralta got it into his head that he is on the trading block.

"I didn't say anything -- I don't THINK," said traveling secretary Mike Hodges. "God...I...maybe it was when I made that joke a week or so ago about cleaning house here. I'm so sorry that Jhonny took it this far. It was just a joke!"

Others tried to offer theories, ranging from "he's just paranoid" to "that damned Internet" to "he must have gotten it from Satch", referring to longtime equipment manager Satch Sanders, 77.

"Everyone knows that Satch is like the Associated Press around here," said a club employee who requested anonymity. "Maybe the old coot said something and Jhonny took it the wrong way."

Regardless, Peralta has taken to not speaking to the media anymore, until, he says, "the trade freaking happens."

"Then I'll have plenty to say," he said on Saturday.

An Internet poll on the team's website says that if Peralta is on the trading block, it's "because he spells his first name like an idiot."

Friday, July 18, 2008

LeBron James Threatens To Send Cavs Teammates To Summer League Without Any Dinner

Cleveland, OH. (Jul. 18) - Cleveland Cavaliers superstar LeBron James, unhappy with the commitment his teammates showed last season to the game of basketball, along with being "disappointed" in them lately, has told his fellow Cavs that he "won't hesitate" to send them to the Summer League, warning them, "don't think that I won't."

"Now, I've had just about enough of this," James said to a group of Cavaliers players who were laughing and frollicking during a loosely-organized scrimmage yesterday in downtown Cleveland. James informed the group -- which included Daniel Gibson, Ben Wallace, Wally Szczerbiak, and some rookie free agents -- that he was "sick and tired" of their carefree attitude, and that if they think he won't make good on his threats to banish them to NBA Summer League, then they "have another think coming."

James became annoyed when Gibson and Szczerbiak abandoned their set offensive play and began simply throwing the basketball at each other in an improvised game of Dodgeball. Then, as James scolded the two players, Wallace crept up behind James and mimicked him, making funny faces and rolling his eyes.

"Maybe y'all need some Summer Leaguing," James said, which temporarily quelled the situation. But minutes later, some rookie free agents began giggling uncontrollably, which got the rest of the team laughing. That's when James announced that the scrimmage was over with and ordered everyone to "put your head down" and observe "quiet time." All seemed fine until an unidentified player farted, which started everyone laughing again.

James then pretended to call the Summer League and make reservations for his teammates, but then added that next time he "wouldn't be fooling around. I have the Summer League on speed dial. I mean it!" James also indicated that any Summer League assignments would be fulfilled without the benefit of dinner.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Some Versions Of Madden '09 To Include John Madden

Redwood City, CA. (July 11) - In an effort to bring the video game experience to a new level, EA Sports announced that some "Special Edition" versions of the popular football game Madden '09 will include the former coach and current TV analyst himself.

"Specially-marked editions -- boxes with holographs undetectable with the human eye -- will be sprinkled in stores throughout the country," EA Sports spokesman Mark Hansen said at a news conference yesterday. "These boxes, when opened, will provide the lucky owner with a video game experience that is unparalleled in the industry today," Hansen added.

Upon the opening of the randomly-marked boxes, John Madden will burst from the front cover and land "feet first" in front of the gamer. He will then provide personal instructions and updates from Madden '08. After a sample gaming session, Madden is slated to wish the gamer luck and provide coupons for future EA Sports purchases. Then, Madden will vanish into thin air.

"The 'grip-and-grins' have to be rather short, unfortunately, so John can be inserted into the next randomly-selected box," Hansen said. The technology is such that no store is allowed to scan a Special Edition box before Madden is ready for insertion.

In this still photo, John Madden is depicted bursting forth from a Madden '09 box -- something that will be reality for some lucky game buyers

"If a specially-marked box is in, say, Portland, and John's latest appearance was in Orlando, the box in Portland cannot be scanned until John is inserted, through the miracle of laser technology, into that box in Portland," explained Hansen.

Madden, when reached thru his publicist, said of the Special Edition Madden '09 boxes: "I just gotta say that when I show up, BAM!, I'm gonna be right in the middle of that person's living room, and you know, you know that the living room, it, it's the center of attention, and you know, you know that, you know, when I was talking to Brett Favre, and Brett Favre, now you know that Brett Favre was always ready to go and here's, here's a guy who played in a lot of big games in Green Bay, and I'm just, I'm just gonna be doin' my thing and we'll just, you know, we'll just have to see if it's good enough. I think it will be."

Monday, July 7, 2008

Mannings' Bid To Be Most Annoying Sports Family Ever Nearing Completion

New York, NY. (July 7) - The Manning family, which includes father Archie and quarterback-playing sons Eli and Peyton, have targeted 2008's opening day of the NFL season as the date that they'll officially become sports' most annoying family.

"If not sooner," said Archie during a break in shooting a series of 45 new ESPN SportsCenter commercials. "After we leave here we're going right to Atlanta to shoot a bunch of whimsical promos for CNN, and then it's off to the Major League Baseball All-Star Game in New York," Archie Manning added, referring to he and his sons throwing out the first, second, and third pitches of the mid-summer classic.

The Mannings lead all of professional sports in the relatively new statistic called Images Per Minute, or IPM.

"It's a way to gauge any family's exposure," notes IPM founder and developer Randall Borders. "Right now, the Mannings hold a sizeable lead over the Williams sisters in tennis. And their agenda clearly shows an intent to not only hold on to that lead, but to build on it."

Borders says that the Mannings' current IPM is .24, meaning that the Mannings appear on television or on the radio or in the newspapers roughly .24 times a minute. Translated, the Mannings thus enter our psyche approximately once every 2.5 minutes. Compare this to the Williams sisters' IPM, which sits at just .11 -- and you can see how far ahead the Mannings are in IPM.

A recent image shows the aggressive, virulent Manning strain of sports family; "They seem resistant to fatigue," Borders says

"The Mannings figured to have a banner year in IPM when the year began," Borders says. "But after Eli's Giants won the Super Bowl, their IPM spiked higher than we anticipated."

The Mannings, according to research released by the IPM institute, have appeared in 212 different commercials, print ads, and radio spots, combined, since January 1, 2008. They have, so far, recorded nearly 100 humorous ESPN SportsCenter promos, and are contracted to do cross-promotion for several Disney, Pixar, and Universal films between now and early-2009. This is in addition to countless voice-over work for various local car dealerships, banks, and sporting goods stores, not to mention public service announcements for over 30 different charities, illnesses, and male medical conditions.

"This may be the most insistent, aggressive strain of sports family that we've ever seen," Borders says with an ominous tone of the Mannings. "They currently seem to be resistant to any form of fatigue, jet lag, or to being overwhelmed with multiple requests for their time. This is bordering on a pandemic," Borders says.

Archie Manning doesn't see what all the fuss is about.

"Heck, we just love bein' on TV," he said with a chuckle.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Struggling Konerko To Start Swinging When Chatter Instructs Him To Do So

Chicago, IL. (Jun 30) - Chicago White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko, struggling all season to keep his batting average above .200, announced that he's trying a new tactic.

"Whenever I'm told to swing, I'll swing," Konerko told reporters gathered around the batting cage prior to yesterday's interleague game against the crosstown Cubs. "That includes infielders who are making some chatter, and any fans who I can pick up chanting in the stands."

Konerko referred specifically to the age-old mantra of "Hey batter, batter, batter, batter -- SWING!" and said that he's willing to take that advice now.

"I've tried just about everything else," said the 32-year-old Konerko, currently batting .215 and set to return from the disabled list this week. "I've tried hypnotism, smearing hot peppers on my socks, and kissing a photo of Jessica Alba," Konerko said. "All without any real success.

"What's the worst that could happen"," he reasoned.

Konerko said he got the idea from watching a rerun of the movie Ferris Bueller's Day Off, which includes a scene with Ferris's friend Cameron shouting the mantra at a Cubs game.

"Then it hit me: does anyone ever really swing when that's said?," Konerko asked reporters. "When I was in Little League, no one ever did. I think it's about time someone did. And that someone is going to be me."

Konerko then took batting practice, but not before rubbing teammate AJ Pierzynski's head and licking his ear, explaining the odd behavior as another way of breaking out of his slump -- something that Pierzynski said was news to him.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Woods: I Also Played U.S. Open With A Broken Arm, A Damaged Pelvis, And Other Internal Injuries

Aspen, CO. (Jun 25) - Adding to his legend, Tiger Woods revealed yesterday that in addition to winning the U.S. Open with a badly injured left knee, he also played with an assortment of other injuries, ranging from a broken arm to internal bleeding.

"Whenever you'd see me grimace, it could have been for any number of reasons," Woods told reporters as he began a summer of rehabilitation in this Colorado resort town. "My knee? Possibly. But there were other things. Other, very bad things," Woods said, his voice dropping and turning menacing.

Woods then listed his ailments -- the ones bothering him at the Open two weeks ago.

"A broken right arm," he said. "Yeah, I broke it. It was a clean break. I suffered it earlier in the week, playing with my daughter. Hurt like hell, especially on tee shots."

Woods somehow manages to laugh with Rocco Mediate after the 2008 U.S. Open, despite a broken arm, a damaged pelvis, a Charley Horse, an asleep foot, internal bleeding, severe headaches, blunt force trauma, and a kidney stone

Woods continued, looking around, not making eye contact with reporters as he listed off his physical problems.

"I was in a minor traffic accident the day before the Pro-Am and messed up my pelvis pretty bad," Woods added. "Then, sometime during the second round, a fan's umbrella jabbed me in the side, and that evening I had some pain. Turns out I had internal bleeding."

Woods wasn't done. He added severe headaches, blunt force trauma to his left shoulder, a "pretty bad" Charley Horse, and said his right foot "fell asleep" while waiting to tee off at no. 16 during the fourth round. "That was worse than you think," Woods said.

Woods said that, given his maladies, that it was "a no-brainer" to skip the rest of the season with knee surgery.

"Gives me time to recover from everything else. Kill nine birds with one stone."

With that remark, Woods added a kidney stone to the list, saying, "I almost forgot!"

Monday, June 23, 2008

No One In Yankees Organization Has Heart To Tell George Steinbrenner That Tampa Bay Rays Have Better Record

New York, NY. (Jun 23) - New York Yankees principal owner George Steinbrenner, in seclusion due to poor health, has been mercifully withheld from the news that the Tampa Bay Rays have a better record and are in second place behind the Boston Red Sox.

"We just don't see the point" in bothering Steinbrenner, 77, with the troubling scenario, said Mary Steinbrenner, one of George's nieces. "It would only...make things worse."

The elder Steinbrenner has left the day-to-day running of the team mostly to son Hank.

The Rays are currently 44-31, 1 1/2 games behind the Red Sox. The Yankees are 41-35, five games out. And three-and-a-half games behind the usually poor Rays -- which is unheard of in late June.

Aides to the patriarch Steinbrenner say that he is shown sports pages from the early-2000s, and is told that the team has reacquired such former stars as Paul O'Neill, Bernie Williams, and Tino Martinez -- or that they've been coaxed out of retirement.

"Sometimes we just run videotaped highlights from 2001," Mary Steinbrenner said, "and tell my uncle that they're from last night or something."

But the biggest secret the family and aides are keeping from the elder Steinbrenner is the fact that usually terrible Tampa Bay has risen to second place, ahead of the history-rich Yankees.

"That would be the killer blow," one aide said. "It might just shove the old coot over the edge," he added on condition of anonymity.

The move to shield Steinbrenner from the Tampa Bay news had old-timers recalling other similar moments, like the Kennedy family withholding news of John's death from father Joe in 1963, and elderly Vancouver Canucks owner Seymour Knox not being shown the team's new gold and black and brown uniforms in 1979.