- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 22, 2007

The Steelers’ minicamp opened Friday with Ben Roethlisberger revealing that he and former coach Bill Cowher weren’t always on the same page. (Now there’s a shock.)

I have no idea what page Cowher was on, but I’m pretty sure Big Ben was on page 167 of “Evel Knievel: An American Hero.”

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Number of the Week: $11,535.30. (How much a full-page ad costs in Nashville’s Tennessean newspaper. Suspended Titans cornerback Pacman Jones purchased a page in Friday’s editions and apologized to fans for being a serial knucklehead.)

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It’s unknown whether Pacman paid the full amount — or whether he got a special discount for being nicknamed after a video game.

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When Tennessean reporter Jim Wyatt tried to find out, Dave Gould, the paper’s vice president/advertising, told him, “It’s not something I can talk about. Like any business or any advertiser, they’re paying for the ad, and I’d rather not get into any of the details.”

Don’t you just love it when a newspaper issues a “no comment” to itself?

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If I were a Nashville sports figure, I’d refuse to talk to the Tennessean until it answered its own question.

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Granted, there are privacy rights involved, but give me a break. The moment the paper agreed to run the ad, it knew it would become a story. That’s why it should have said to Pacman: “Look, we’re happy to print your apology, but if one of our reporters asks us how much you shelled out for it, we’re going to tell him. And if you have a problem with that, well, there are other media outlets out there.”

I doubt Pacman would have minded. I mean, the terms of his contract with the Titans, for goodness sakes, are public knowledge. Why would he care about something as trivial as this?

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Something tells me, though, that the Tennessean did, indeed, give him a Special Discount For Being Nicknamed After A Video Game — and doesn’t want its other advertisers to know.

And especially not Ms. Pacman.

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Oh, to have been the account manager who handled the transaction …

How do you wish to make payment, Mr. Jones — credit card, check or $1 bills?

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Elsewhere in the NFL, the Bears’ Brian Urlacher was docked $100,000 for wearing an unauthorized cap during Super Bowl media day — one that promoted a sponsor who isn’t one of the league’s “partners.”

How silly is that, folks? Now vitaminwater, the sponsor involved, will get even more publicity because of the ridiculous size of the fine.

Gatorade — the “injured” party — must be thrilled about that.

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Vitaminwater is made by Glaceau, a company whose motto is: “Hydrate responsibly.”

Hydrate responsibly? You mean, there’s a Mothers Against Vitaminwater, too?

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Maybe it’s just me, but when I look at Urlacher’s bulging biceps — and the barbed-wire tattoos etched across them — the last thought that enters my mind is: “Boy, I’ve gotta get me some of that vitaminwater.”

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Trivia Question: The obituary for entertainer Don Ho, who died recently, established a connection between him and erstwhile Redskins GM Charley Casserly. What is it? (Answer below.)

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Saints/Dolphins/CFL running back Ricky Williams has applied to the league for reinstatement after serving a one-year suspension — and the Rams are thinking about signing him.

If it doesn’t pan out, of course, Ricky can always go to work for the NFL Network as its Mars correspondent.

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Meanwhile, in South Carolina, Gamecocks football coach Steve Spurrier took a stand against the Confederate flag that flies at the State Capitol.

Sure wish Steve had taken a stand like that when he was coaching here — and gotten rid of those yo-yos who run around FedEx Field after every touchdown waving Redskins banners.

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Turning to baseball, did you read about the Brewers’ Bill Hall being miffed that he got pulled over by a National Parks Service ranger for a traffic violation?

Actually, Hall was upset about more than just the ranger, I hear. What really irked him was getting patted down by Yogi Bear.

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While Boo Boo read him his rights.

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Given the sensation Daisuke Matsuzaka has caused in Boston, the Sunday Column is surprised more hasn’t been written about the first Japanese player to invade these shores: Masanori Murakami, a lefty reliever for the Giants in 1964-65. Unlike D-Mat, a 26-year-old of international renown — or Hideo Nomo, who was the same age when he debuted with the Dodgers more than a decade ago — Murakami was just a 20-year-old kid in 1964.

Yet it took him only a few months to make the jump from Class A Fresno to the major leagues. Newspapers, not much concerned with political correctness back then, dubbed him the “Nipponese Rally Nipper” — and the nickname was well deserved. In his farewell appearance for Fresno, Mashi (as he was known) struck out 10 of the 12 batters he faced to preserve a 6-5 victory over Reno.

During his two seasons as a Giant, Murakami went 5-1 and racked up 100 Ks in 891/3 innings, many of them coming on his killer curveball. But Nankai Hawks held his rights — they had merely loaned him to San Francisco — and he rejoined them in 1966.

Chub Feeney, the Giants’ vice president at the time, claimed “parental ties and not money chiefly influenced his decision,” but that might not be entirely true. Reports had Murakami getting $40,000 to play for the Hawks the next year, more than twice the $17,000 Feeney had offered.

The Giants finished in second place in the National League in ‘66, 1 games behind the Dodgers. Their top reliever, Frank Linzy, posted a 7-11 record. Said Feeney: “I think we would have won the pennant if Mashi had been in our bullpen.”

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Answer to trivia question: Ho and Casserly both attended Springfield College in Massachusetts. (Don went there for only a year, 1949-50; Charley graduated from the place in the late ‘60s. For the uninitiated, Springfield is where Dr. Naismith invented basketball.)

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And finally …

Just a reminder to all you weekend athletes out there: Hydrate responsibly.

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