- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 16, 2006

I’m beginning to think that, five years from now, Michelle Wie will be sharing a water-filled sphere with David Blaine.

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Nobody should be surprised that it was an Italian player whose trash talking set off Zinedine Zidane. The coach of Italy’s World Cup team, after all, was named Lippi.

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Turning to boxing, Evander Holyfield will launch his latest comeback against Larry Donald in November. The winner, I’m told, will meet the survivor of the charity bout between Joe Frazier and Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton.

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Between you and me, I’m not sure Evander could beat Luke Donald right now, never mind Larry Donald. In fact, Old McDonald might be a stretch.

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Can’t wait until newly acquired Austin Kearns hits his first walk-off homer for the Nationals, if only to read the headline: “Austin Powers Nats To Victory.”

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Speaking of the Nats, my friend Robert, the Virginia Tech zealot, thinks the new owners should give everybody who attends a game in August “one of those small battery-operated fans that blow out water as well.”

To which I reply: Yeah, you could call it “Fan Appreciation Month.”

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No joke: I took my sons to a day game at RFK last summer, and the heat left me so delusional that I could have sworn I saw a Zamboni on the field between innings.

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Elsewhere in baseball, Bode Miller has signed a one-game contract to play for the Nashua (N.H.) Pride of the independent Can-Am League later this month. The team hasn’t said which position Miller will play but, judging from his performance in the Winter Olympics, I’d guess “prone.”

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The sudden emergence of Francisco Liriano — to go along with Johan Santana — gives the Twins a pair of high-powered left-handers. Which made me curious: What was the last major-league team to have two southpaw 20-game winners in the same season? (Answer below.)

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Something I didn’t know until I stumbled across it in the San Diego Union-Tribune:

“[Jerry] Coleman was the only major league baseball player who flew missions in World War II and the Korean War. … While [Ted] Williams served faithfully in both conflicts, he did not leave the States during World War II. Coleman fought overseas in both wars.”

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Terrell Owens makes, by my count, five recent athletes who have claimed to be misquoted in their own autobiographies. Other members of the club: Charles Barkley, David Wells, Dennis Rodman and Mary Pierce.

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I remember seeing erstwhile Blue Jay George Bell raptly reading his autobiography, “Hardball,” in the visiting clubhouse in Baltimore one day. As he turned the pages, he had the look of a guy who had absolutely no idea what was going to happen next.

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Did you notice, by the way, that Owens’ book, “T.O.,” was written with Jason Rosenhaus, Drew Rosenhaus’ younger brother? You’ve gotta love Drew. The man gives new meaning to the term “full-service agent.”

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Mike Tyson is probably on the phone to Don King at this very moment, screaming: “How come your brother never wrote an autobiography about me that said I was ‘heroic’?”

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The Worcester (Mass.) Telegram ran an interesting story the other day on a man who just won $1 million in the state lottery for the second time in five years. What made the story even more interesting is that the fellow, Carmy Cesaire Sr. of Gardner, is the father of Chargers defensive end Jacques Cesaire, who hit the jackpot himself not long ago by signing a five-year, $11.5 million contract.

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Thanks, Ma, for sending that item along. (My sainted mother lives in Gardner — with the shades drawn, in mortal fear that I might move back home.)

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From the Lame Excuse Department (courtesy of Ben Roethlisberger, the helmetless Steeler):

“People … have been making a big deal for the last couple of years about me riding … without a helmet, but it’s one of those things that I ride with a helmet also. I do a little bit of both. If you don’t wear a seat belt every time you ride in the car, should I label you as a person who doesn’t wear a seat belt?”

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Obviously, Ben is still recovering from that blow to the head.

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Jai Lewis, one of the main cogs in George Mason’s Final Four run, has abandoned his NFL experiment and plans to return to basketball. Let’s face it, it’s a whole different world when you’re not the only 6-5, 290-pounder out there. Or to put it another way, when you get the slobber knocked out of you in football, they don’t reward you with two free throws.

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Number of the Week: 649. (Dollars per night — excluding taxes — the South Bend Marriott is charging for Notre Dame’s Sept. 9 home opener against Penn State. A three-night stay is required.)

A year ago, writes Gene Wojciechowski of ESPN.com, the hotel “required a two-night minimum stay during a Notre Dame football weekend” and charged $299 (plus tax), a night.

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So that’s how Marriott can afford to hire Kathleen Matthews away from WJLA-TV.

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Remember in “Pulp Fiction,” when Bruce Willis’ character says to his girlfriend, “Zed’s dead, baby. Zed’s dead”? Well, reports of Zed’s death, it seems, have been greatly exaggerated. The Capitals just got Richard Zednik back from the Canadiens after a five-year separation.

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If “Zed” has any style, he’ll return to town on a chopper. Not a motorcycle, a chopper.

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Answer to trivia question: The last team with two lefty 20-game winners in the same season was the ‘74 White Sox. Jim Kaat went 21-13 that year for the Pale Hose, and Wilbur Wood went 20-19.

(Not long before that, Orioles southpaws Dave McNally and Mike Cuellar both won 20 three straight seasons from 1969 to ‘71.)

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News item: Kobe Bryant has minor knee surgery and probably won’t play for the U.S. in the world championships this summer.

Comment: Oh, great, now Kobe is jealous of all the ink Barbaro has been getting.

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And finally, can you believe this academic nonsense going on — yet again — at Auburn? I’m tellin’ ya, the next time a college star is described as having “an ‘S’ on his chest,” I’m going to assume it stands for “Sociology major.”

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