- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 21, 2006

Out of respect for the Preakness, the Sunday Column — this week only — will refrain from beating any dead horses.

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In case you’re curious, I had Trigger to win yesterday, with Black Beauty to place and Mr. Ed to show.

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Congratulations to Joey “Jaws” Chestnut, the San Jose State student who scarfed down 50 hot dogs and buns in 12 minutes last week to break the American record — and set up a showdown with five-time winner Takeru Kobayashi of Japan in the Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest (July 4, Coney Island). Just a year ago, believe it or not, Chestnut was only able to eat 32 dogs.

Hey, wait a minute. San Francisco Bay Area … dramatically improved performance … Did BALCO ever come out with any designer mustards?

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“This could be so critical to our sport,” says George Shea of the International Federation of Competitive Eating.

(Stuffing your face is considered a sport now?)

“It’s never good for the same athlete to win [the Nathan’s contest] so many years in a row.”

(Athlete? Right, George. I’m sure Joey “Jaws” will get a lot of votes for Sportsman of the Year. In fact, it’ll probably come down to him and Albert Pujols.)

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By the way, instead of the International Federation of Competitive Eating — which doesn’t have much of a ring to it — why not call it the Brotherhood of Unbelievably Ravenous People (aka BURP)?

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Chestnut was already the U.S. champ in pork ribs (5.5 pounds in 12 minutes), waffles (18.5 in 10 minutes) and jalapeno poppers (118 in 10 minutes). You could say the hot dog mark completes the Grand Slam for him, but everyone knows a Grand Slam consists of two buttermilk pancakes, two sausages, two strips of bacon and two eggs any way you like ‘em.

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Did anybody else notice this? Only one member of the All-NBA team — that is, the first team — (a) was born in the United States, and (b) attended high school and college in the U.S. (Shaquille O’Neal). Dirk Nowitzki is German, Steve Nash hails from Canada (though he went to Santa Clara) and Kobe Bryant and LeBron James jumped from high school to the pros.

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Number of the Week: 0. (How many field goal attempts Spurs defensive ace Bruce Bowen had in Game 5 against the Mavericks — in 33:37 of playing time.)

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If only Kobe could play with four guys like that …

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Just a reminder: The Devin Harris who has been so impressive for the Mavs in the postseason is one of the players the Wizards traded for Antawn Jamison. (He was the No. 5 pick in the 2004 draft.)

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Speaking of Dallas, it’s turned into quite the basketball town. Barry Horn of the Morning News reports that last Wednesday’s game against the Spurs earned a better TV rating (16.5) than both “American Idol” (13.3) and “Lost” (11.2).

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And the reason “Idol” outdrew “Lost,” I’m guessing, is that Paula Abdul is a former Lakers cheerleader.

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Turning to football, the Dolphins have agreed to let Ricky Williams play for the Toronto Argonauts this season while he serves his NFL suspension. Williams will begin training with the Argos, his agent says, as soon as he returns from receiving an honorary degree from the University of Mars.

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Something just occurred to me: Joe Gibbs is now the longest tenured of Dan Snyder’s four head coaches (and one interim). That’s right, folks, the Gibbster is the NFL’s Joe Torre.

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Which makes Joe Bugel who — Don Zimmer?

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Number of the Week, Part II: 12,000. (How much smaller the proposed capacity of the L.A. Coliseum would be for NFL games, as opposed to USC games, if the league decides to locate a franchise there. The renovated Coliseum would seat 68,000 for the NFL, 80,000 for SC.)

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Officials at the universities of Georgia and Florida want TV networks to stop referring to their annual football game as the “World’s Largest Cocktail Party.”

Aw, come on. We’re talking about Georgia-Florida here, not the “GE College Bowl.”

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How long do you figure it will be before ESPN adds hazing to the X Games?

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Trivia Question: According to the New York Times, the 70th-most-popular name for baby girls last year — ahead of Sara, Vanessa and Amanda — was Nevaeh, which is “Heaven” spelled backward. What well-known athlete’s first name is his father’s name spelled backward? (Answer below.)

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News item: 19-year-old Danny Almonte marries 30-year-old Manhattan hair stylist.

Comment: At least, she said she was 30.

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I’m not sure which is more amazing, a “12-year-old” Little Leaguer throwing a perfect game in the World Series — striking out all but two batters — or the same Little Leaguer marrying a 30-year-old hairstylist barely four years later.

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She’s 30, he’s 19. Just wondering: Does this make her certified to teach in the state of Washington?

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Elsewhere in baseball, the Astros’ Russ Springer was suspended for four games for throwing at Barry Bonds — one for hitting him and the other three for needing five tries.

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Plans call for Michelle Wie to compete on the LPGA Tour, PGA Tour, European PGA Tour, Asian Tour and Japan PGA Tour this year. And get this: If her schedule permits, father B.J. says, she’s also going to enter the Tour de France, drive a Gran Turismo, learn the words to “Tura-lura-lural” and participate in a reenactment of the Battle of Tours.

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Answer to trivia question: Dodgers first baseman Nomar Garciaparra (whose father’s name is Ramon).

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And finally …

At this point, I’m not sure the Pirates of Pittsburgh could beat the Pirates of the Caribbean.

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Then again, if they could run up Johnny Depp’s pitch count and get into the Caribbean bullpen…

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