Posted: Tuesday February 27, 2007 10:25AM; Updated: Tuesday February 27, 2007 10:25AM
1. Stepping up: Cardinals shortstop David Eckstein may be gritty and gutty, but he's also quite short. Fortunately he has a sense of humor about it, judging by his willingness to go along with the Lowell (Mass.) Spinners' Step Stool Giveaway Night this July. The 5-foot-6 World Series MVP began his professional career with the Spinners, now a Class A team in the Red Sox chain. The first 1,500 fans on July 20 will receive a kid's step stool bearing Eckstein's likeness. "If you're short like me," says Eckstein, "it's useful." The Spinners are known for their attention-grabbing promotions, such as their offer last year to buy new uniforms for any youth league team in New England that wanted to change its name from the (hated) Yankees to the Spinners. Actually, on some days that probably seems a like a fair offer to A-Rod.
2. Shaquille O'Neal became the 14th NBA player to reach 25,000 points in Monday's loss to the Knicks. Shaq celebrated by arresting fair-weather coach Pat Riley for fraud.
3. The voice of Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling can be downloaded for just $12.95 for use on TomTom GPS car-navigation devices. But it costs $129.95 if you want Schilling to ever shut up.
4. Former Tour de France champ Jan Ullrich, who's still being investigated in a doping scandal, retired from cycling on Monday. He plans to focus on making his own red blood cells.
5. A new women's pro soccer league will begin play in 2008 with either six or eight teams, including several that will be closely tied to MLS franchises. The hope is to create two struggling soccer leagues rather than just one.
6. Purpose pitch: Some players react better to a benching than others. Few, if any, have responded worse than Serbian soccer player Slavomir Milnovic. After the 25-year-old was left out of the starting lineup by FC Mramor, he took the tractor from his family's farm and tore up the field. Milnovic was charged with damaging private property, though his coach felt grudging respect for his aggression.
7. Roger Federer notched his 161st straight week at No. 1 on Monday to break Jimmy Connors' record. Though Federer isn't a unanimous No. 1; Dick Vitale still voted for Duke.
8. Tennessee women's basketball coach Pat Summitt says that she and her staff will cheer for the Vols' men's team from the stands -- perhaps in cheerleader uniforms -- for Tuesday's game against Florida. That's returning the favor of UT men's coach Bruce Pearl, who painted his bare chest orange and cheered in the student section for the Lady Vols' Jan. 22 game against No. 1 Duke. Other coaches have been inspired by their friendship. Now UConn women's coach Geno Auriemma says he'll be happy to cheer for good pal Jim Calhoun's men's team in the NIT.
9. Nike has commissioned a rap song about the return of the Air Force 1 sneaker. Lame. There's no way to recapture the magic of Run-DMC's My Adidas.
10. Bowled over: With Tuesday's news that the Cotton Bowl will likely move to the Cowboys' new stadium when it's complete in 2009, one more college football tradition is all but gone. The bowl games, some might recall, originally got their name for the stadiums in which they were played. In other words the Rose Bowl is called that because it was played in, well, the Rose Bowl, which in turn received its moniker because the stadium itself resembles a bowl. If and when the Cotton Bowl (the game) moves out of the Cotton Bowl (the stadium), the Rose Bowl will be the only game played in a stadium of the same name. That's true even when the original stadium still stands, such as the Orange Bowl (which still hosts University of Miami home games but not the eponymous bowl game). Two near-exceptions are the Liberty Bowl and Sun Bowl, which are played in Liberty Bowl Stadium and Sun Bowl Stadium, respectively. (And come on, people, tacking on "stadium" after "bowl" is redundant.) Also, the Florida Citrus Bowl (the stadium) currently hosts two bowl games, but neither is called the Citrus Bowl anymore. I'm not sure what any of this means, though, except that I needed a 10th item.
Reader submissions: Since this coming Friday will be the first of a new month, it's time for all-reader-submission edition, a.k.a. my favorite column. Please send your entries by Thursday afternoon.