- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 11, 2006

Reason No. 274 why soccer is better than tiddlywinks: The 1-nil game … decided by an own-goal.

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Reason No. 275: In its World Cup opener against England, Paraguay — because of the aforementioned goal — was outscored by itself.

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Saw French striker Thierry Henry referred to as “the Kobe Bryant of the World Cup.” This, of course, can be taken any number of ways:

1. He’s the most dangerous scorer in the game.

2. He never saw a shot he didn’t like.

3. His team will be eliminated in the first round (after which he’ll change his jersey number).

4. Concierges beware.

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Britney Spears’ new bodyguard, the Baltimore Sun reports, is an Alexandria native and former Navy lacrosse player — 28-year-old Perry Taylor. Makes perfect sense to me. The motto of the Academy, after all, is ex scientia tridens, which is Latin for, “When Britney calls, we answer.”

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Why do I have this feeling that Steve McNair, arthritic as he is, won’t help the Ravens any more than Joe Namath did the Rams?

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FYI: Broadway Joe was 33 when he signed with the Rams in April 1977, and McNair is 33 now.

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Interestingly, the Ravens’ biggest concern isn’t McNair’s health. It’s that Deion Sanders might decide to make another comeback — this time as a receiver.

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The Steelers’ recent ring ceremony planted the following thought in my head: Now that they’ve got “One for the Thumb,” what’s their next battle cry, “One for the Ear”?

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Can you believe the nightmare Bob Uecker has been living? The legendary baseball announcer filed a restraining order last week against a woman who, he claims, has been all but stalking him the last several years. According to court filings, she sent him unsolicited gifts, contacted him in various cities and — this is really annoying — insisted on calling him “Mr. Belvedere.”

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Jason Grimsley — he of the 42-58 record in 16 major-league seasons — used Human Growth Hormone? Who was his supplier, Freddie Patek?

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The feds, I hear, offered to get Grimsley into the Witness Protection Program if he spilled the beans about performance-enhancing drugs in baseball. He turned them down, though, saying, “There’s no way I’ll finish my career with the Devil Rays.”

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Grimsley did tell authorities that amphetamine use was prevalent in the big-league clubhouses, and that the drug was placed in coffee pots marked “leaded.”

Leaded? Oh, that’s just great. Not only are these players walking around wired, they’re also contributing to global warming.

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Despite all the media attention they received, neither Danny Almonte nor Jeffrey Maier (the Yankees’ fourth outfielder in the ‘96 AL playoffs) was selected in baseball’s amateur draft.

At least, I don’t think they were selected.

Hey, Bud, is the 50th round over yet?

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Speaking of the draft, did you notice the Nationals took a shortstop named Stephen King? Scouts are convinced the kid can eventually “Carrie” a team.

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The Nats were also interested in John Updike, I’m told, until they found out he was represented by Scott Boras.

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In my next life, I want to come back as a “sandwich pick.”

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But hold the mayo.

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Just wondering: If you’re a “sandwich pick,” does it mean you’re born and bread to be a ballplayer?

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Or does it just mean you’re more likely to get out of a pickle?

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A total of 14 “sandwich picks” were made this year and, strangely, there wasn’t a Reuben in the bunch.

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Mia Hamm — now she would have made a great “sandwich pick.”

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Coy Bacon, too.

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Not to digress, but … Maryland had a quarterback in the early ‘90s named Jim Sandwisch. He was, as I recall, very open-faced.

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In keeping with Boston’s reputation as a scholarly city, the Red Sox used one of their first-rounders on Daniel Bard, a pitcher for the University of North Carolina. It was the most exciting literary moment in sports since the 1936 NFL Draft, when the third overall pick — by Pittsburgh — was Notre Dame back Bill Shakespeare.

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In other baseball news, the Giants’ Jason Schmidt struck out 16 Marlins last week to break the San Francisco record for one game, previously held by Gaylord Perry. Perry is said to be so mad he could spit.

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The Orioles, meanwhile, have relieved Dave Cash of his first base coaching duties and replaced him with Rick Dempsey, previously in the bullpen. If the shakeup doesn’t snap the O’s out of their funk, management is prepared to take even more drastic steps, including firing the team mascot and bringing in a groundskeeping consultant.

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And if those don’t work, well, I wouldn’t want to be the P.A. announcer.

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And finally …

Too bad Nicole Vaidisova is from the Czech Republic. Otherwise, I could nickname her and fellow blonde bombshell Maria Sharapova “the DoubleMinsk Twins.”

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