Which is the
tougher work environment, Philadelphia's Citizens Bank Park or the slightly
muggier confines of the Amazon jungle? Phillies wunderkind Cole Hamels can find
out: The rookie lefthander, 22, is dating former Survivor: Amazon contestant
and Playboy cover girl Heidi Strobel (below). (Survivor-philes might recall
that Strobel, who finished fifth, dropped her shorts in exchange for cookies
and a jar of peanut butter.) The couple met two years ago while Hamels was with
the Phillies' minor league affiliate in Clearwater, Fla. Now they find
themselves bonding over the trials of celebrityhood. "She's gone through
the hectic lifestyle," Hamels told The Philadelphia Inquirer. "That is
the biggest help possible for me."
? American Idol
winner Taylor Hicks's cheering section was known as the Soul Patrol, but he's
been cultivating a fan base since his days as a Little Leaguer. Before last
week's Idol finale Hicks's father, Brad, told The Birmingham News, "I think
Taylor wants us here to watch him, just like when he was eight or nine and had
a [baseball] game." Hicks, 29, also starred on Hoover (Ala.) High's
basketball team, helping the Buccaneers to the second round of the 1995 state
sectionals as a senior. Last month Hoover mayor Tony Petelos presented him with
a retro hicks number 20 Bucs jersey.
? A tip for
Yankees fans seeking revenge on Curt Schilling, who helped take down the Bronx
Bombers in the 2001 World Series and the '04 ALCS: The Red Sox righthander is
taking on all comers online. During next week's New York-- Boston series at
Yankee Stadium, fans can battle a character based on Schilling--it will look
like him and is named after him--in the role-playing video game EverQuest II,
which takes place in a fantasy world of magic and mythology
(www.battleals.com). Every time the cyber-Schilling is defeated, EverQuest
developer Sony will donate $5 to the ALS Association, a charity devoted to the
fight against Lou Gehrig's disease. First up for Schilling: his son Gehrig, who
says, "I think I'll kill him if I do it right."
? As if the
Knicks need another drama queen. Point guard Nate Robinson, who won the NBA
Slam Dunk contest in February, is spending the summer in his hometown of
Seattle training for his second season and finishing the theater major he
started three years ago at the University of Washington. Robinson plans to take
classes this summer and hopes to earn his degree within two years. Then, he
says, "I just want to be in one movie." He has already lobbied Knicks
superfan Spike Lee for a role. "I keep a little bug in Spike's ear,"
Robinson says. "He says he'll squeeze me in one of these days." ...
Finally, a rendition of Take Me Out to the Ballgame that sounds more robotic
than what Ozzy Osbourne warbled at Wrigley Field in 2003. Peter Frampton, with
the help of his trademark talkbox-guitar effect, performed the ditty live in
2003, at a Reds game, and now a version is available on Cincinnati Clutch Hits,
a collection of Reds-themed tunes recorded by Cincinnati musicians.