By Justin McBride (above), the Professional Bull Riders Built Ford Tough world championship, earning the 26-year-old rider a $1 million bonus at the circuit's World Finals in Las Vegas. McBride, a seven-year PBR veteran, placed second in the finals, clinching the season-points title over runner-up Guilherme Marchi of Brazil. This was the third consecutive year that McBride, a Mullen, Neb., native who attended UNLV on a rodeo scholarship, entered the finals in contention for the title but the first time that he stayed healthy throughout the event. (Last year he broke a leg, and in 2003 he rode with broken ribs and a punctured lung.) "I knew from the time I was a little kid I wanted to be a professional bull rider," says McBride. "But I had no idea the sport would ever be this big."
By PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem, a new schedule that would give golf a NASCAR-style playoff beginning in 2007. Under the system, which mirrors auto racing's Nextel Cup, a seasonlong points race would culminate with a four-tournament championship series. The top 30 points winners would then compete for a $10 million payout in the season-ending Tour Championship. The playoff, to be called the FedEx Cup, is designed to stir interest in the sport after the season's final major, the PGA Championship, is played in August. "We're really the only sport that doesn't have a stronger finish than our regular season," said Finchem.
By a Missouri state legislator, that major league umpires and NFL officials be taxed for the income they earn from working games in the state. State representative Jeff Roorda, a Democrat and rabid Cardinals fan, came to believe Missouri's athlete and entertainer tax should be extended to on-field arbiters after witnessing what he called "inexcusably poor officiating" during St. Louis's loss to the Astros in the National League Championship Series. (Visiting players must pay Missouri income tax on a portion of their salaries earned in the state.) "I won't lie and say this isn't the product of a disgruntled fan, but it is sound policy," said Roorda, who plans to introduce the bill next month. "If they're not going to pay attention, they ought to at least pay taxes."
For the fourth time, WBC heavyweight champion Vitali Klitschko's mandatory title defense against top challenger Hasim Rahman. Last Saturday, Klitschko's camp announced that a right knee injury, suffered while sparring, would force the champ to miss the bout, which was scheduled for this Saturday. Klitschko (above) hasn't fought since last December: He was scheduled to face Rahman on April 30 but backed out because of a pulled thigh muscle, and Klitschko's complaints of a back injury twice scuttled plans for the fight over the summer. While waiting for Klitschko, Rahman--who says the champ is ducking him--earned the WBC's interim title with a win over Monte Barrett in August. He'll be named the outright champion if Klitschko doesn't fight him within 90 days.
By John McEnroe, several audience members who turned out at a dinner honoring him as the New York Athletic Club's Man of the Year. Late in the evening, during a string of rambling speeches, several restless members of the crowd of 700 booed and hissed at speakers, including McEnroe's brother Patrick and former doubles partner Peter Fleming. When McEnroe took the microphone, he berated the crowd, saying, "Your blood-alcohol level should be checked at the door as you're going out.... I can't believe we're in this position right now. Ninety-eight percent of the people here I don't even know. To the two percent of the people I do know, thanks for coming out for me."
By former NHL coach Jacques Demers, that he is illiterate. Demers, 61, who was behind the bench when the Canadiens won their last Stanley Cup, in 1993, admits in a newly released French-language biography, Jacques Demers: En Toutes Lettres (roughly translated as All Spelled Out), that he couldn't read or write during his career. Demers (right), who had little formal education, says he has since slightly improved his reading skills. He would invent excuses for assistants to fill out lineup cards and handle paperwork, and he shied away from the autograph seekers who wanted personalized messages with his signature. "You put a wall around yourself," he said. "I could speak well, and I think that really saved me."
The Celtics' season opener at the TD Banknorth Garden in Boston, team president Red Auerbach. In September, Auerbach, 88, spent over a week in intensive care for various ailments. Doctors told him to give up his trademark cigars, but Auerbach was feisty as ever during an impromptu press conference before the Celtics' win over the Knicks. He said he was impatient for another NBA title-- Boston hasn't won since 1986--and took a swipe at Lakers coach Phil Jackson, who is tied with Auerbach for the most coaching championships, with nine. "Remember one thing: He's been very fortunate," Auerbach said. "He picks his spots. That's all I can say."
On eBay, the Wheeling, W.Va.-based Ohio Valley Greyhounds of the United Indoor Football Association. Last week managing general partner George Kellas listed his team, which he billed as "one of America's most successful minor league professional sports franchises," on the online auction site after two other deals to sell the Greyhounds fell through. (He says he has lost $35,000 on the team, which went 6-11 this season.) Kellas said the the franchise will fold if it's not sold by Nov. 15; as of Monday the top bid was $100,900.
To drug trafficking charges, Pete Rose Jr. On Monday, Rose, 35, the son of baseball's alltime hits leader, turned himself in after being indicted for his part in a ring that allegedly distributed GBL, a drug sometimes used as a steroid alternative. According to the indictment, Rose admitted receiving GBL while with the Chattanooga Lookouts, a Reds minor league affiliate, in 2001 and '02; he also said he supplied many players on the team with the drug. Rose, who played for the independent Long Island Ducks last season, faces up to 27 months in prison and a $1 million fine.