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April 06, 2009
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April 06, 2009

Who's Hot Who's Not

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Naufahu Tahi
The Vikings re-signed their fullback, matching the $1.4 million offer sheet he received from the Bengals. For Tahi, a starter for the first time last year, that means a fat raise (from $450,000 in 2008), the chance to keep playing with Adrian Peterson and, oh, yes, not having to go to Cincinnati.

Brett Gardner
DiMaggio, Mantle, Rivers, Williams and now ... Gardner! The 25-year-old outfielder with 127 career at bats (and a .228 batting average) was hitting .385 in exhibition games through Sunday, but it was his legs that won him the Yankees starting job in center over Melky Cabrera. Said manager Joe Girardi: "Gardy will steal."

Jimmie Johnson
Bearded (he says his wife likes it) and back in form after busting a move with 15 laps left, Johnson zipped past Denny Hamlin to win in Martinsville, Va., his first Sprint Cup victory of the season.

Hurt by long-term injuries (defenseman Erik Johnson, forward Paul Kariya) and buried at the All-Star break, plucky St. Louis had won eight of 11 to get into playoff position. If the Blues make it, Kariya (right) may return from his hip injury. Coach Andy Murray on his low-scoring, grinding group: "This isn't gymnastics. We're not looking for style points."


Jonas Jennings
The talented tackle never seemed to get comfortable, and couldn't stay healthy, after signing with the 49ers in the summer of 2005. He missed 42 games in four seasons and was rehabbing his surgically repaired right shoulder last week when he learned that, at age 31, he'd been released.

Carlos Marmol
The K king (his 114 strikeouts led big league relievers in '08) didn't get the glamour gig, losing the battle for Cubs closer to Kevin Gregg. Marmol was so-so in the World Baseball Classic, Gregg had an 0.00 spring ERA at week's end; Marmol believes his fate was long sealed. He told Chicago's Sun-Times: "They knew what they [wanted] to do" before the WBC.

Matt Kenseth
Two season-opening wins were sweet, but the Cup driver hasn't cracked the top 10 since, averaging a 27th-place finish in four races. At Martinsville? A pit-road gaffe dropped him to 23rd.

Mark Cuban
An NBA owner was fined $25,000 for dissing a ref on Twitter ... any surprise it's the guy in Dallas? Cuban was ticked because Denver's J.R. Smith didn't get whistled for taunting. (Now there's a topic about which Cuban is well-versed.) Or maybe he was irked by his Mavs, losers of five of eight through Sunday and stuck in eighth place.