Friday, April 30, 2004

Monterey County Herald | 04/30/2004 | VARIETY IS THE SPICE OF RACING

Several types of machines will be competing this weekend


Herald Correspondent

This weekend's Road & Track U.S. Sports Car Invitational, which kicks off the five-event season at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, is all about variety.

There is no main event, per se, as at the Superbike, Champ Car and American Le Mans Series weekends, nor a featured marquee, as at the Historics which will showcase Ferrari this year.

What there will be is a number of different types of races from historic stock cars to Superkarts. And there will be stock car legend Bobby Allison, voted one of the 50 greatest drivers in NASCAR history, serving as grand marshal.

"I'm looking forward to a weekend including two of my favorite things, the beautiful Monterey Peninsula and racing," said Allison, who was voted NASCAR's most popular driver six times during his career that included 84 Winston Cup (the series is now called the Nextel Cup) victories. "It's been almost 24 years since I raced there, but I have fond memories."

Allison will be present for an autograph session from 4 to 5 p.m. Saturday at the Brats & Brews Area in the track infield.

There will also be two divisions of Porsche Club of America competitors, and there will be competition in Mazdaspeed Miata Cup and Formula Ford Zetec Championship, which is a part of the Cooper Tires Championship Series.

The highlight of the Invitational could be a $10,000 winner-take-all International Drifting Shoot-Out on Saturday. Drifting is a relatively new event that started in Japan. At Laguna Seca, drivers will put their cars into a slide through the Andretti Hairpin (Turn 2), straighten out and go into a slide again through Turn 3. Drivers are judged on execution and style as well as speed through the corners.

Another popular event could be the World SuperKarts. Former World Champion motorcycle road racers Wayne Rainey and Eddie Lawson will again lead the field. Rainey, a Monterey resident, is paralyzed from the chest down, but whips most of the competition in his hand-controlled shifter kart. About the only one who can consistently beat Rainey in the kart is his good friend Lawson, who actually came up with the idea and design of Rainey's kart.

Today's activities will include a fan party at the Baja Cantina from 6-9 p.m. in Carmel Valley featuring Historic Stock Car drivers and other competitors and a drifting party at Club Octane in downtown Monterey from 8-10 p.m. A CHP officer will escort cars from the drifting competition to the party, where the cars will be on display.

Saturday, there will also be a fan parade lap from 12:10-12:35 p.m. For a $20 donation to the Sports Car Racing Association of the Monterey Peninsula (SCRAMP) Improvement Fund, fans will be able to take a parade lap around Laguna Seca in their private cars.

On Sunday at 1:31 p.m., Lisa Leuschner of Watsonville, who was a top 20 finalist on this season's American Idol competition, will sing the national anthem prior to the Historic Stock Car race. The weekend will be punctuated by a wedding of two long-time SCRAMP assistant directors, James Alit and Judi Slayton, at the start-finish line at 5:30 p.m. Sunday.

In addition to the Brats & Brew area, off-track activities will include the Road & Track Classic Car show, live music and the Monterey Experience, which features Monterey Peninsula area attractions.

Tickets are available at the gate or at ticketmaster outlets. Tickets are $20 today, $25 on Saturday and $30 on Sunday. Two-day (Sat/Sun) tickets are $40 and three-day tickets are $50. All tickets include admission and paddock and grandstand access. Log on to www.laguna-seca.com or call the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca ticket office for more information at (800) 327-SECA or 648-5100.

Thursday, April 29, 2004

The Punisher Movie Autograph Signing Photos - Tom Jane

"The Punisher"
Autograph Signing

Approximately 250 fans lined up inside the Parkway Plaza Mall in El Cajon, CA, for a chance to meet Tom Jane, the star of "The Punisher." The autograph signing at Comics-N-Stuff brought out "Punisher" fans of all ages, with the first 75 lucky attendees winning passes to an advance screening of the film. Joining actor Tom Jane for the special event was "The Punisher" illustrator, Tim Bradstreet. Bradstreet thrilled fans by doing a few quick drawings, in addition to signing "The Punisher" movie posters, T-shirts, and comic books.

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Acclaimed Singer and 'Touched by an Angel' Star Della Reese Urges Phoenix Residents to Be Stronger Than Diabetes

Della Reese Will Share Her Personal Experience with Type 2 Diabetes
at the American Diabetes Association Diabetes Expo

PHOENIX, April 28 /PRNewswire/ -- As part of a nationwide educational
campaign, actress and singer Della Reese is visiting Phoenix to encourage
residents with type 2 diabetes to aggressively manage their disease. This
Saturday, Della will be speaking to people with diabetes at the American
Diabetes Association Diabetes Expo to share her practical and personal advice
for living with type 2 diabetes, including information about healthy meal
planning, regular physical activity, medications, and the importance of
addressing insulin resistance, an underlying cause of type 2 diabetes. Della
is the spokesperson for the "Della Reese: Stronger Than Diabetes" campaign.
The American Diabetes Association Diabetes Expo is a day-long event that
offers attendees access to educational lectures, professional consultations,
free health screenings, as well as exercise and cooking demonstrations. The
Diabetes Expo is being held on Saturday, May 1, 2004, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00
p.m., at the Phoenix Civic Center. Della will make a brief appearance at the
GlaxoSmithKline booth for autograph signings, followed by her keynote address
in the main auditorium at 2:00 p.m.

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Online Casino News.com - All The Gambling, Sports and Casino News for the Internet Gambler
Online gambling beating Las Vegas Sportsbooks
By paul

Internet sports betting has overtaken Las Vegas-based sports books. A 2002 US Congressional Report said global online gambling revenues were over $4 billion, with over $2 billion bet by US residents. Bear Stearns estimated the global online gambling market would have been worth over $5 billion if credit card issuers had not blocked transactions with offshore betting and gambling sites. Nevada, where sports betting is legal, took under $2 billion in 2002, a ten-year low.

This can be partially explained by the fact that slots are squeezing other types of gambling from Las Vegas casino floorspace. Slots account for 70% of Nevada casinos’ profits. Another reason is that, apparently, Nevada bookmakers are referring business to the offshore sports betting sites. Also, the online sports books tend to offer better odds than Las Vegas, as well as generous sign up bonuses unavailable in Nevada.

The report found that US online gamblers and heavy internet users share many of the same demographics: According to David Lee of Mandalay Bay casino, 77% of online sports bettors are male. The are also typically single, educated, 25-34 years old, and with incomes in the $40,000 - $80,000 range. Other findings of the report include players’ preference for recognized names, rather than internet-only sports books.

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Monday, April 26, 2004

The Bristol Press

Collecting LeBron a pricey proposition

By Paul Angilly , The Bristol Press 04/26/2004

It’s now official. As many collectors anticipated long before the season even started, LeBron James earned NBA Rookie of the Year honors right out of high school.

And if you want to build a comprehensive LeBron James card collection, you may have to consider a second mortgage on your home.

A search of the Beckett.com online price guide last week revealed that at least 476 different James cards have been issued already -- and that total is likely to top 500 by the end of the season.

Looking at just the top 10 most valuable cards for which Beckett lists a price (cards issued in extremely limited quantities are not priced due to their scarcity), their combined value is in the $7,500 to $11,400 range.

Those top 10 cards include: 2003-04 SP Game Used Rookie Exclusive Autographs, $1,500 to $2,000 (a PSA10 graded example recently sold on eBay for $2,152); 2003-04 SP Signature Edition Signatures Gold, $800 to $1,200; 2003-04 SP Signature Edition Rookie INKorporated, $800 to $1,200; 2003-04 Upper Deck Sweet Spot Signatures, $750 to $1,200; 2003-04 Bowman Chrome Refractors Gold, $500 to $1,000; 2003-04 Black Diamond 24 Karat Signatures, $700 to $1,000; 2003-04 Upper Deck SPx jersey/autograph rookie card, $600 to $1,000; 2003-04 UD Glass Auto Focus, $750 to $1,000; 2003-04 UD Glass Monumental Marks, $600 to $1,000; and 2003-04 Upper Deck Finite Signatures, $500 to $800.

Some cards were released too recently for Beckett to have pricing available last week. Among those cards is what may turn out to be James’ key rookie card: 2003-04 Upper Deck Ultimate Collection #127, an autographed card from the $100-per-pack set, numbered to 250 copies. Here’s the final winning bids from 14 recent eBay auctions for this card: $1,675, $1,670, $1,580, $1,525, $1,345, $1,325 (three times), $1,300, $1,276, $1,275, $1,200 (twice) and $1,025.

Among other cards recently topping the charts at eBay: a 2003-04 SP Signature Edition Signatures Triple, limited to 25 copies and signed by James, Michael Jordan and Tracy McGrady, graded BGS 9.5, sold for $7,900. A non-graded version of the same card sold for $2,150.

Also, a 2003-04 Fleer Flair 1-of-1 Masterpiece parallel card of James sold for $3,350; a 2003-04 Upper Deck SP Signature Series James SP Rookie Logo autographed card, numbered 01/25, sold for $3,000; and a 2003-04 Upper Deck Finite Gold Auto James card, limited to just 10 copies and graded PSA 10, sold for $3,606.

Here’s a look at the price range (Beckett low and high prices) for some other popular LeBron James cards: 2003-04 Upper Deck Finite #242, $200 to $400; 2003-04 UD Glass #100, $200 to $350; 2003-04 Skybox LE #118, $200 to $350; 2003-04 SP Game Used #107, $100 to $200; 2002-03 Topps Finest #178 (available through a redemption card from last year’s set), $100 to $200; 2003-04 Topps Chrome #111, $25 to $60; 2003-04 Topps #221, $8 to $20; 2003-04 Upper Deck #301, $15 to $40; 2003-04 Upper Deck MVP #201, $6 to $15; and 2003-04 Topps Bazooka #276, $5 to $12.

The cheapest James cards available are singles from the 2003 Upper Deck LeBron James Box Set, which are priced at 75 cents to $2 each.

The LeBron James Box Set is still available to collectors directly through Upper Deck (at www.upperdeckstore.com) for $19.99 plus shipping, and it’s the first of three different boxed sets (so far) that the company has made for James. The 30-card box set features photos of James on and off the court and also includes two oversized cards, including one special triple-exposure card entitled "Development of the Dunk." As an added chase, James autographed 23 cards that were randomly inserted.

Also available through Upper Deck’s online store is the LeBron James Phenomenal Beginning Box Set ($9.99 plus shipping). Composed of 20 cards plus one insert card, the box set features various highlights from James’ rookie year. Insert cards available are 20 gold parallel cards, 20 gold facsimile signature parallel cards (numbered to 100 copies) and a special autographed card (numbered to 23 copies).

Finally, being issued on an ongoing basis is the LeBron James Freshman Season Collection (available now for $49.99 plus shipping). The set details James’ entire season, with one card for each game (85 different cards). Collectors ordering now will get a binder with sheets, plus cards of James’ first 15 games, plus a special e-card. After registering online using the enclosed e-card, collectors will get the remaining cards in two shipments later this year.

CLARETT NOT IN DRAFT, BUT ON CARDS: Last week, a federal appeals court blocked a lower court ruling that would have made some underclassmen (i.e. former Ohio State tailback Maurice Clarett and USC’s Mike Williams) eligible for the NFL draft. Clarett appealed to the Supreme Court, but was denied in his bid to enter this past weekend’s draft.

Despite that fact, both players have appeared in draft pick football card sets from Press Pass and SA-GE.

According to a report on Beckett.com, Williams signed the general licensing agreement with Players Inc. after the initial ruling was handed down allowing all underclassmen into the draft -- meaning that Williams has contractually allowed his image to be used on trading cards and other collectibles in 2004.

Both the Press Pass and Press Pass Signature Edition football card sets include regular cards, autographed cards and insert cards of Williams. The regular Press Pass set is already out, while Press Pass SE has a release date of May 5.

Clarett has not signed the GLA, but did sign a separate deal with SA-GE. The company’s SA-GE Hit set is already out and includes 10 different Maurice Clarett cards, including inserts and parallels.

Sunday, April 25, 2004


Boxing: Klitschko rides heavy punches to claim belt
By Michael Katz in Los Angeles
26 April 2004

In a fight that did not save the heavyweight division, but at least woke it up, Vitali Klitschko proved that he inherited a better chin than his younger brother, taking some of Corrie Sanders' best left hands early and late before stopping the part-time boxer with 14 seconds left in the eighth round.

And when the referee John Schorle, had to rescue the 38-year-old Sanders, who knocked out Wladimir Klitschko in 207 seconds 13 months ago, Vitali had perhaps earned the right to call himself Lennox Lewis's rightful heir.

Vitali Klitschko started slowly in the same Staples Centre ring where he gave Lewis a tussle 10 months earlier before cuts forced the bout's stoppage after six rounds, with Klitschko ahead on all official cards. Sanders went after Vitali the same way as with Wladimir, with booming left hands.

In the eighth round, Sanders' face was covered in blood but he was landing big punches, accompanied by some vicious right hooks. But as he was pressing forward, he ran into a big right hand from Vitali. A few combinations quickly followed and, although Sanders somehow did not fall, it was over.

"I was surprised he never went down," Klitschko said. "He took so many punches, it was unbelievable."

Sanders' manager, Vernon Smith, said "He got beaten by a better fighter."

The winner said he was not thinking about any unification bouts, preferring instead to let his brother try to win a belt and fulfil their dream of being concurrent champions.

"I hope Lennox Lewis will come out of retirement," Klitschko said. "Lennox was the biggest name in boxing, in the history of boxing. He beat everybody. He didn't beat me."

Lewis congratulated Klitschko in the dressing room, before repeating his vow to stay retired.

* Matt Skelton stopped Michael Sprott at the Rivermead Leisure Centre in Reading, on Saturday night in the 12th and final round to win the British and Commonwealth titles.

The end of Sprott's brief reign looked inevitable from round one but his desire kept him going in a fight that he never looked capable of winning.

In an ideal world, Skelton will at some point this year meet Audley Harrison in the type of clash that would generate more excitement than any British heavyweight title fight since Lennox Lewis defeated Gary Mason in 1991.

East Valley Tribune Online: "Dockett in particular is an interesting choice. He has first-round "

Arizona finally gets NFL draft right
By Scott Bordow, Tribune Columnist
Fans at the Cardinals’ draft party in downtown Phoenix stood to greet Dennis Green and Rod Graves Saturday.
And they weren’t brandishing weapons.

A year after the Cardinals made like the Keystone Kops — pass on Terrell Suggs, take Calvin Pace — they got it right.

Their draft wasn’t sexy. Just sensible: Pittsburgh wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald with the No. 3 pick, Auburn outside linebacker Karlos Dansby at No. 33 and Florida State defensive tackle Darnell Dockett in the third round.

In fact, those of us who have sat through the Cardinals’ annual exercises of stupidity were bored Saturday.

We had to leave the sharp knives and ridicule at home. We weren’t able to point out that the obvious was right under the Cardinals’ noses, and they couldn’t smell a thing.

If this is what Green and Graves are cooking up, what’s to become of us smart-alecks? Might we have to learn how to spell praise?

(We’ll hold off on the other P word. Green can’t benchpress a franchise in one year).

I hoped Green would have some sympathy for a columnist’s pain. After all, he was a media hack at ESPN for a couple of years.

Instead, he laughed at our loss.

The draft wasn’t boring, he said. Just effective, like "Joe Montana dropping those dink passes off to fullbacks. It’s part of the plan."

Next, he’ll be telling us Fitzgerald is the next Jerry Rice.

And it might not be hyperbole.

Fitzgerald sounds too good to be true, Jack Armstrong in shoulder pads.
He won’t pull out a Sharpie unless he’s asked to sign an autograph. After each of the 34 touchdowns he scored at Pittsburgh, Fitzgerald handed the ball to the official rather than call attention to himself with an inane end-zone celebration.

He once came to the aid of a stranger by dropping coins in a parking meter after seeing the woman was out of change.

He continued to take classes at Pittsburgh after declaring for the NFL draft.

"That’s the kind of man that Larry is, a great individual," Green said.

Fitzgerald’s talent is unquestioned. He’s 6-foot-3, 225 pounds and has Velcro for hands. Baltimore Ravens personnel director Phil Savage told USA Today that Fitzgerald is "the type of player that when you take him out of the box, it says, ‘No Assembly Required.’

"That’s so rare for a receiver. With most of them, there’s a learning curve. But he’s ready now."

Of course, the last can’t miss, can’t-screw-it-up Cardinals draft pick was Andre Wadsworth, and what’s he doing these days?

But why look for storm clouds when the sun is shining. Even those of us who would have preferred Miami safety Sean Taylor can’t protest too loudly about Fitzgerald. He and Anquan Boldin could be the same sort of dynamic duo Randy Moss and Cris Carter were for Green in Minnesota.

"I think that is something we are definitely going to try to do," Fitzgerald said.

As for Dansby and Dockett, who knows? But both players fill needs, and the Cardinals didn’t extend their reach to take them.

Dockett in particular is an interesting choice. He has first-round talent but character issues. He’ll either be a steal or Wendell Bryant.

The Green era is off to a solid start. But acing the third pick in the draft was easy. The season is riding on the development of quarterback Josh McCown.

If McCown grows up quickly, the Cardinals will be competitive and Green will look like a genius.

If McCown’s talent isn’t as big as his heart, the 2004 draft will be remembered not for who Green took, but what he didn’t.

A quarterback

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