With attempted murder, relief pitcher Ugueth Urbina, 31. The free-agent righthander, who appeared in 81 games for the Tigers and the Phillies this season, was jailed in Venezuela for his alleged role in an incident at his family's ranch in the town of Ocumare del Tuy last month. Urbina (above, in prison) and several other men allegedly attacked as many as eight young ranch employees, including Ricardo Osal (inset, above), with machetes, dousing them with gasoline and setting them on fire, after a dispute over a missing firearm. (The victims suffered perforated eardrums, severe burns and other injuries.) Urbina denied the charges, claiming the workers had been in his pool and he simply scolded them. Still, a judge ordered that he remain in prison while he is tried (the date has not been set), an unusual step in a country where celebrities often buy their way out of trouble. Said Ram�n Flores, one of the victims' attorneys, "We cannot allow Venezuela to institutionalize impunity for people who have money."
By Congress, an inquiry into whether former Orioles slugger Rafael Palmeiro committed perjury last March when he told the House committee that he had never used steroids. Palmeiro was suspended for 10 games in August for testing positive for stanozolol, but the panel announced last week that it turned up no evidence that Palmeiro lied before Congress. "That's not a finding of innocence, but ... that we could not substantiate perjury," said Rep. Tom Davis (R., Va.), chair of the committee. Palmeiro also made his first detailed public comments since his suspension, reiterating that he never knowingly took steroids. He suggested the positive test may have been caused by a contaminated dose of vitamin B-12 given to him by teammate Miguel Tejada.
A sponsor's exemption to play in the LPGA's Ginn Clubs & Resorts Open in Orlando next April, Dakoda Dowd, 12. Tournament organizers decided to let the seventh-grader from Palm Harbor, Fla., play after learning that her mother, Kelly Jo, 40, who suffers from breast cancer, harbors a dream of seeing her daughter compete in an LPGA event. Dakoda, a 1.9 handicap, has won 185 junior tournaments. "It's nothing short of a miracle as far as I am concerned," said Kelly Jo.
In goal for the Lightning, rookie Gerald Coleman, the first graduate of NHL Diversity to play in the league. The 20-year-old native (above) of Romeoville, Ill., allowed one goal in mop-up duty during a loss to Atlanta last Friday. (He was sent to the minors on Monday.) NHL Diversity, started in 1995, supports 32 nonprofit hockey organizations in the U.S. Coleman joined a club in Chicago when he was 12; he received equipment, ice time and a good shove. "The big thing was getting chosen for the Willie O'Ree All-Star Game [in 1997]," said Coleman of the annual youth game, played at the United Center that year, that's named for the NHL's first black player. (O'Ree is now Diversity's director of youth development.) "That gave me the impetus to come back to the building as an NHL player."
By Bears center Olin Kreutz, tackle Fred Miller's jaw, in a fight. Last week Miller had surgery to repair his jaw, which he initially said was injured in a fall at home. He missed Sunday's game against the 49ers, ending a streak of 110 starts, and the next day the teammates admitted they tussled. (No details were provided.) "We're over it," said Kreutz. "The team is the Number 1 thing, and we're going to try to move on."
To Ohio State, 7-foot center Greg Oden, the jewel of next year's recruiting class. A year ago Oden, 17, who averaged 20 points and 9.6 rebounds last season as a junior and has led Lawrence North High in Indianapolis to two state titles, would have been a lock to jump to the NBA after graduation. But thanks to the NBA's new age minimum, which requires players to be at least 19 and out of high school for a year before being drafted, Oden (left) will spend at least one season with the Buckeyes. He heads a banner recruiting class for Ohio State, which signed four of the top 30 prospects in the country. Said coach Thad Matta, "[ Oden] has a chance to be special."
At age 50, Steve Courson, who won two Super Bowl rings as an offensive lineman with the Steelers. Courson was long-haired, wild-eyed, hyperaggressive and, as it turned out, 'roided-up. Though he felt his outspokenness hurt his relationship with his former team, he was open about his steroid use; he frequently talked about the dangers of steroids, and last April he testified before Congress. ("The only reason I talk about it," he said after his testimony, "is because of those kids.") Last Thursday he was cutting down a dead oak on the property outside his two-story log cabin when it suddenly fell, fatally crushing him and pinning one of his two black Labs, Rufus, who survived. E.J. Sherry, the neighbor who helped remove Courson's body from beneath the tree, said he suspected Courson was trying to get his dog out of the way when the tree brought him down.