Posted: Thursday March 15, 2007 10:14AM; Updated: Thursday March 15, 2007 10:14AM
1. Falcons quarterback Michael Vick is opening a winery restaurant. Sure, he'd like to be associated with something that gets better with age.
2. My NCAA picks: Just so I can justify all the time I spent thinking about my pool as "work," I'm revealing my pool selections. As I noted on Tuesday, I am entered in a suicide (knockout) pool. One must pick four teams in the first round, three in the second, two in the third and one in each round thereafter; a team can only be selected once all tournament. One is eliminated if a selected team loses or if one can no longer make a selection among the remaining teams. For the first round, I am taking No. 2 Wisconsin (vs. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi), No. 2 Memphis (vs. North Texas), No. 3 Texas A&M (vs. Penn) and No. 3 Oregon (vs. Miami of Ohio). With the exception of Texas A&M, I took high seeds that I don't feel very confident in down the line, thus no reason to "save" them. My biggest concern is Oregon, for which I fear a letdown after a great Pac-10 tournament. Still, I'm hoping that 18-14 Miami's surprising run to the MAC title (won on a buzzer-beater) and its trip west to Spokane, Wash., will prove equally draining. Still, if history has shown anything, it's that I know nothing.
3. Cardinals manager Tony La Russa has gotten a tattoo to mark the team's world championship. It's a life-size portrait of Series MVP David Eckstein.
4. Lakers coach Phil Jackson says that his oft-disciplined star Kobe Bryant is the target of a "witch hunt" by the NBA. He may have a point. This week, league disciplinarian Stu Jackson insisted Kobe turned him into a newt, though it got better.
5. Boxing promoter Don King will have an audience with Pope Benedict XVI on March 21. Well, it's not often that the Pope has the second-most-elaborate headpiece in the room.
6. Nike will pull some of its advertising business from longtime partner Wieden+Kennedy. The new ads will be made by 13-year-olds in Southeast Asia.
7. The Pens are mightier than my pen: A number of Penguins supporters wrote in to gripe about the crack at No. 8 in Tuesday's 10 Spot that a fan rally to celebrate the team's new arena deal was "held in a downtown phone booth." Among the printable epithets were "idiot" and "uninformed," while one unnamed reader asked the presumably rhetorical question, "Are you clueless or just a moron?" Indeed, the readers have a valid case that the Penguins' endless will-they-or-won't-they-leave saga had more to do with an antiquated arena with skimpy revenue streams than a dilapidated fan base, since home attendance and local TV ratings actually ranked among the strongest of the 24 U.S. franchises. Plus, I did chuckle at this rebuke from Matt R.: "I suggest doing a little extra research (i.e. 2 minutes instead of 1) the next time you take a swipe at the Pens ... then get in your own phone booth and dial in this column." Matt, I'll expect your entry for the next reader-submission edition. Thankfully, nobody pointed out the other gaping flaw in this joke's logic -- who can find an actual phone booth these days?
8. Some NFL observers are speculating that the Patriots are being so aggressive in the free agent market because coach Bill Belichick wants to make one more Super Bowl run before retiring. In fact, he's already grooming a successor. By 2009, Belichick is pretty sure that his sweatshirt will be able to walk the sidelines without him.
9. The Massachusetts Lottery and the Red Sox are unveiling a new game in Fenway Park on Thursday. It's called "Guess What Manny's Thinking Today." Good luck.
10. A river in Egypt: We enjoyed Gary Matthews Jr.'s long-awaited denial on Wednesday that he ever took human growth hormone, despite evidence that he ordered HGH from an online pharmacy. Here's our favorite part of his written statement: "I needed to try to learn whether anybody in authority -- in or out of baseball -- felt they had reason to accuse me of anything with regard to HGH. If they did, I would have dealt with that. It has taken me, and those representing me, 16 days to make certain that's not the case. And that is why it has taken longer than I would have preferred to make a public statement." In case you don't have your legalese-to-English translator handy, let us take a crack at that: "First I had to make sure that the D.A. wasn't going to charge me, but thankfully he's just going after the suppliers. Then I had to be certain that baseball didn't have any evidence that I actually took the HGH beyond a mere invoice. For all baseball can prove, I used it to help the Seven Dwarves. Now that I know that nobody has the goods on me -- baseball doesn't even test for HGH! -- I'm free to deny away with impunity. Thanks for your patience." Play ball!