Saturday, January 08, 2005

NEWSBOARD - Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame & Museum 2005 Induction May 20th & 21st (Amsterdam NY) 

NEWSBOARD - Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame & Museum 2005 Induction May 20th & 21st (Amsterdam NY)

The PWHF will kick off the weekend with a Golf Outing which will be held Friday, May 20th. The event will be at the Amsterdam Golf Coarse located at 158 Upper Van Dyke Ave. in Amsterdam, N.Y. Tee off time and fee to be announced.

Friday evening at dusk the PWHF will have a display of fireworks at the River Front Park in Amsterdam. This event is sponsored by Gendron's Truck Center.

Saturday, May 21st the Annual Convention will be held from 10 am to 2 pm at the Best Western - 10 Market St. in Amsterdam, N.Y.

Wrestlers, promoters, publishers and vendors will be available for autographs, answer questions and display memorabilia for sale.

No admission will be charged to the public to enter the convention. Vendor tables are available for those wanting to market thier products.

Saturday afternoon a Meet & Greet will be held from 3 pm to 4 pm at the Best Western. The 2005 Inductees along with many other wrestlers will be signing autographs and taking pictures. Admission is $10 per person. Tickets can be purchased in advance.

The Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame Dinner/ Induction Ceremony will be held May 21st. This event will be held at the Cliffside Restaurant located at 360 East Main St. in Amsterdam, N.Y. Cocktail hour will begin at 6 pm with dinner at 7 pm followed by the Induction Ceremony. Tickets are $50 per person, seating is limited.

The Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame & Museum will be moving to 29 East Main St. in Amsterdam, N.Y. Renovations of the new building should be completed in March.

For information on the Induction Weekend or the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame & Museum contact Tony Vellano at (518)356-3473, tvellano@msn.com or Mike Capano at (518)725-5272, mcapano@nycap.rr.com For the list of 2005 Inductees visit www.pwhf.org

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Desperate is the new Sex 

MSNBC - Desperate is the new Sex

Housewives’ have rescued Sunday nights for former ‘Sex’ fans
ABC’s “Desperate Housewives” has consistently ranked as the number one new show on television. The one-hour dramedy, with its black humor and captivating characters, offers a welcome break from the glut of reality TV and crime shows. Happily for us gals, “Desperate Housewives” also fills the void left by HBO’s series, “Sex and the City,” providing gossip-worthy story lines as well as an all-female lead cast dripping with Golden Globe nominations.

Each Sunday night we sneak a peek into the twisted, but well-manicured lives of the women of Wisteria Lane. Eerily narrated by cheerful — and recently deceased — neighbor Mary Alice Young (Brenda Strong), “Housewives” reveals the secrets of Susan (Teri Hatcher), Bree (Marcia Cross), Lynette (Felicity Huffman), and Gabrielle (Eva Longoria). On the surface, Susan, the only “available” (i.e. divorced) housewife, is the character with whom we the viewers are meant to identify. But as Mary Alice reminds us weekly from beyond the grave, things aren’t always as they seem.

The dirt so far
The first episode of “Desperate Housewives” began with a bang — literally. After spending an average day in suburbia, seeing off her husband and son, completing her chores, and opening the mail, Mary Alice commits suicide using a gun hidden in the top shelf of her closet. Nosy neighbor Martha Huber (Christine Estabrook), who uses the ruse of returning a blender to investigate the gunshot, discovers the body. Returning to her own home to call 911, Martha blithely rips Mary Alice’s nametag from the blender now that it’s hers to keep. (Karma pays Martha a visit several episodes later, delivering a deadly message about the downside of ill-gotten blenders.)

Now Mary Alice isn’t just resting in peace, she’s spilling the beans on her corporeal friends while failing to mention what inspired her own early exit. Of course, if she did, there wouldn’t be a show. As the surviving housewives come together to investigate the mystery, Mary Alice’s death slips into the background. It’s the surviving women’s stories viewers are e-mailing each other about Monday morning.

Susan Mayer, the single mom mothered by her teenage daughter, digs the mysterious “plumber” who just moved in across the street. Martha Stewart-wannabe Bree Van De Kamp struggles to keep her family life looking flawless, despite her ambivalent husband and sociopathic spawn. Former high-powered executive Lynette Scavo is the mom with the martyr complex. Overwhelmed by her brood of hellions, she resorts to taking her children’s ADD medication. Gabrielle Solis is the ex-model married to a shady businessman and carrying on an on-again off-again affair with the teenage gardener.

Who’s your favorite of the ‘Desperate Housewives’?

Our housewives, ourselves
Like her “Sex and the City” counterpart Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker), Susan and her romantic bumbling play to our own insecurities and aspirations. Who doesn’t want to be the rail-thin divorcee with an overly responsible teenage daughter, and a budding romance with the hunky neighborhood handyman? Whether she’s (oops!) tumbling naked into her shrubbery, accidentally burning down the house of her romantic rival, or discovering her would-be lover’s cash stash (before falling through his bathroom floor), Hatcher portrays Susan with giggly effervescence.

While we may be risky or goofy, how many of us actually woo the hot mystery man across the street? The average viewer is more likely to be wrestling the kids into the SUV while attempting to maintain a thin thread of sanity à la Lynette. Huffman delivers the perma-frazzled Lynette in an all too believable way. Her boys decide that Mary Alice’s wake is the perfect occasion for a swim, and moments later Lynette’s waist-deep in the pool. When she finally decides to hire a Mary Poppins-esque nanny, viewers discover that the only thing more stressful than her burden-bound life is having to witness someone else handle it better.

Much the opposite of Lynette, Marcia Cross's Bree appears to handle family life effortlessly. But looks can be deceiving. Many of us would love to pull off the perfection incarnate act as well as Mrs. Van De Kamp, but we also love to see those Stepford types take a tumble. Bree’s life tumbles plenty, what with a soon to be ex-spouse and a son she fears may be soulless. But no matter how bad things get she never loses her façade — or that just-so flip do. Her announcement to dinner guests that her husband has a habit of crying after orgasm came off as naturally as passing the salt, in a scene expertly executed by Cross.

Hanging on to the sexy and irresponsible days of youth is a common desire, but Gabrielle takes it a bit further by hanging on to someone else’s youth, as well. Her affair with a minor notwithstanding, she seems to love husband Carlos, or at least all the shiny things he buys her. Protecting those things was her first priority when the feds sent her husband to jail. To Longoria’s credit she’s able to make a character that shouldn’t be likable (Gabrielle was relieved when her mother-in-law was hit by a car!) seem downright charming.

And the award goes to…
Add doses of murder, mayhem, and mystery and you begin to see what makes this show so addicting, and worthy of Golden Globe nominations. But it’s not just the plot points, the reason the often-unfathomable storylines work is in the acting.

No doubt one of the “housewives” will take home a Golden Globe Jan. 16 for best actress in a comedy series. Hatcher, Cross, and Huffman are all contenders.

The smart money is on Felicity Huffman. Given the intense dramatic story arc that award bestowers so love, she hit it out of the park. She portrayed the harried mother of four driven to pill popping, closing with a gut-wrenching scene where she confessed to friends her sense of utter failure as a mother and a woman. It almost hurt to watch and left you wanting to give her something. A tissue? A hug? A Golden Globe? Just something. Her toughest competition comes in the form of Marcia Cross, the scene-stealer who’s quickly becoming a fan favorite.

In other Golden Globe news, the show itself was nominated for best comedy series, and Nicollette Sheridan got a nod for best supporting actress for her role as Edie Britt. While Britt isn’t part of Mary Alice’s pack of friends she does make a good comic foil for Susan — two sexy divorcees in one subdivision is one too many. Sheridan also managed to raise a few eyebrows outside the show with her towel dropping hijinks in an intro to Monday Night Football in November 2004.

When “Sex and the City” went off the air many of us feared that Sunday night would no longer be girls’ night. No one expected salvation to come so quickly in the form of “Desperate Housewives,” replacing single life in New York with married life in the suburbs, and giving us a whole new quartet of women to get to know.

Each of our leading ladies portrays a type that we identify with — even when it's being blown up to cartoonish proportions, like the perfectionist that is Bree. While we may not be committing acts of arson, taking our kids meds, or frolicking with the lawn boy, we know these women because in some ways we are these women.

So we’re left with not so much one character to identify with but the sum of all the characters, and that’s good television. How better to hook us on the scandals and intrigue of neighborhood naughtiness than to have us feel invested in every one of these ladies.

Ultimately, though we may see facets of ourselves in each of our four leads, we're more like the show’s short-lived busy body Martha Huber. Hopefully we lack her malicious intentions (not to mention untimely death-by-blender), but while we’re watching the show we're just the neighborhood snoop that wants to know everyone's business on Wisteria Lane.

Ree Hines lives in Tampa, Florida, and is a contributor to MSNBC.com.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

TheHawaiiChannel - Entertainment - Ashlee Simpson Booed At Bowl Game Show

Ashlee Simpson Booed At Bowl Game Show
Singer Embarrassed Earlier On SNL

POSTED: 10:26 am EST January 5, 2005

BOSTON -- It wasn't the Janet Jackson wardrobe malfunction, but fans were not pleased with the Orange Bowl half-time show Tuesday night in Miami featuring singer Ashlee Simpson.

AP Image
Ashlee Simpson

As she wrapped up her half-time show act, Simpson was loudly booed by fans in the stadium.

In October, Simpson was caught lip-synching on Saturday Night Live.

During that debacle, as Simpson and her band began their second song, the sound of a pre-recorded vocal could be heard -- to the song that she'd already done earlier in the show. Simpson stopped, and paused, and then tried a few exaggerated dance steps, before leaving the stage. She later blamed her band for playing "the wrong song." Then Simpson's father, who's also her manager, said his daughter used the extra help from a voice track because acid reflux disease had made her voice hoarse.

Insider Racing News Archives 12-30-04 to 1-5-05

Waltrip To Host Dinner
Driver Michael Waltrip and his wife, Buffy, will host a gala dinner at Rock Barn Golf and Spa in Conover on Jan. 15 in hopes of raising $1 million for the Victory Junction Gang and other charitable causes. The public is invited to the black-tie event known as `Michael Waltrip and Friends,' which will benefit Operation Marathon, a program the Waltrips developed in conjunction with the Victory Junction Gang. Musician Edwin McCain will perform at the gala. For more information, contact Jill Skowronek at (704) 604-4368.(charlotte.com)

RCR Will Host Engine Builder's Contest
RCR will be hosting the first round of the 2005 Clevite Engine Builder's Contest this Wednesday, Jan. 5, and Thursday, Jan. 6, in the RCR meeting building. There will be four builds each day, at noon, 2:30 p.m., 5:00 p.m., and 7:30 p.m. RCR’s Lanny Barnes and Todd Hamm took top honors in last year’s final round. They will begin the defense of their title Thursday at 7:30 p.m. Everything kicks off Wednesday at noon when RCR’s Ron Liddell and Freddie Turza go up against RCR’s Wes Adams and John Goodwin. 2002 runners-up Danny Lawrence and Greg Gunnell step into the ring Wednesday at 5:00 p.m. The six quickest competitors will move on to the second round.

Burton-Spencer Join Fitness 500
Jeff Burton and Jimmy Spencer join the slate of drivers scheduled to appear at the Wake Forest Baptist Fitness 500 on January 8 at the LJVM Coliseum. Saturday, both Burton and Spencer will lead a team during the Wake Forest Baptist Fitness 500 to capture the title of “Most Fit.” Other NASCAR drivers and personalities scheduled to appear at the Wake Forest Baptist Fitness 500 include: Rusty Wallace, Jerry Nadeau, Carl Edwards, NASCAR President Mike Helton, Bobby Allison, Ray Evernham, Chocolate Meyers, Ron Hornaday and Teri MacDonald. Ann Schrader, wife of Kenny Schrader; Kim Labonte, wife of Terry Labonte; Kim Burton, wife of Jeff Burton; and Nancy Andretti are scheduled to compete on the Women’s Auxiliary of Motorsports (WAM) team.

New Fireball Roberts Web Site
Previously "Cheers and Jeers" announced a new book ‘Fireball’ to be out in February, written by motorsports journalist Godwin Kelly and published by Carbon Press. We've found a comprehensive website on the legendary Fireball Roberts at FireballRoberts.com. There’s a collection of some of the best pictures and stories we have seen on Roberts. You can also receive updates by request at the site.

"St. Dale" To Be Published In February
In another example of NASCAR stock car racing moving into the mainstream of the American public, the first novel completely based on the sport’s lifestyle and fans will be published within the next few weeks and distributed nationally. Sharyn McCrumb, a Virginia writer best known for her Appalachian "Ballad" novels, including New York Times Best Sellers She Walks These Hills and The Rosewood Casket, has based her new novel on another Southern tradition: stock car racing. St. Dale, the story of a modern-day group of racing fans on an “Earnhardt pilgrimage” to the Southeast speedways from Tennessee to Florida., will be published in February, 2005, by Kensington Publishing Corporation of New York.

Nemechek Hires Teacher
In an era where most rookie drivers in the top NASCAR series are young enough to still be in school, NEMCO Motorsports opted for a different approach by entering a teacher instead of a student for four NASCAR races in 2005. Chris Cook, a driving instructor for NASCAR drivers including Tony Stewart, Dave Blaney, Kenny Wallace and Tim Fedewa for more than a decade, will enter the road-course events at Mexico City (Busch Series), Watkins Glen (Nextel Cup and Busch Series) and Infineon Raceway (Nextel Cup) with the NEMCO Motorsports team. Cook, 33, who owns the driver coaching and testing company Shift Into Gear, has more than 20 years of racing experience. He has raced everything from late-model stocks at the Nashville Fairgrounds (“Rookie of the Year” in 1992), to less traditional categories like the Alaska Ice Racing Series, Grand-Am Racing Series and the Formula Drift Series. Cook has one previous start in a NASCAR Busch Series event at Watkins Glen in 1999. He ran as high as second place until a mechanical failure ended his race.

Martinsville Changes Cooler Policy
To help insure quicker and easier access into events, Martinsville Speedway will have a new policy for carry-in items beginning with the 2005 season. Fans may bring one soft side bag or cooler, no larger than 6 x 6 x12 into the venue. They may also bring in one clear plastic bag, no larger than 18 x 18 x 4. Binoculars, scanners, headsets and cameras, not placed in a bag, but worn separately over the neck or on the belt, and seat cushions carried separately are also allowed. The new policy will go into effect with the Advance Auto Parts 500 weekend which is April 8-10. Examples of approved soft side bags or coolers include a soft side cooler, a scanner bag, a fanny pack, a purse, a diaper bag, or a binocular bag. This one bag may be carried in any manner * by the handle, with shoulder straps or on a belt. The soft side cooler may contain ice. The approved clear plastic bags may not contain ice. Seat cushions with compartments will be reviewed on an individual basis. Fans may continue to bring their own food and beverages into the grandstands as long as it is brought in the approved bags or coolers. All items brought through the grandstand gates will be inspected.

Jeff Gordon On "Tonight Show"
Jeff Gordon, four-time NASCAR Series champion and driver of the No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet, is scheduled to appear on NBC's "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" this Wednesday, January 5. Gordon, set to begin his 13th full season in NASCAR's premier series, will make his second appearance in less than a year on the Emmy-Award winning late night talk show. Please check local listings for time and channel in your area.

DEI Gets Jump On Mexico Busch Race
Dale Earnhardt Inc. is trying to stay a step ahead of the competition. With the 2005 racing season rapidly approaching and a new road race in Mexico City slated for the NASCAR Busch Series schedule, DEI recently enrolled members of its driver development program into the Advanced Road Racing two-day session at the Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Driving near Phoenix. The goal was to sharpen the drivers’ road-race skills under the supervision of some serious road-course masters. The students included Shane Hmiel, who has shown great promise since joining the Busch Series at the end of 2001, and Ryan Moore, a 21-year-old upstart who only recently signed with DEI after earning Busch North Series rookie-of-the-year honors in 2003. Driver Paul Menard, another DEI hopeful, was also on hand for a day of instruction. To help accelerate the learning curve, GM Racing called upon veteran Corvette driver Ron Fellows. Fellows’ role was to assist Bondurant’s expert team in teaching advanced road-racing skills to the DEI drivers in both the classroom and on the track.
To read more...(AutoWeek)

Robby Gordon Denies Being Fired At RCR
Despite published reports suggesting (Robby) Gordon was released from his job driving the No. 31 Chevrolet following the 2004 season, it was Gordon himself that told car owner Richard Childress in August of his plans to run a full NASCAR Nextel Cup Series program under his own banner. In fact, for several years it has been Gordon’s goal to operate his own team, just as he has done before in the NASCAR Busch Series, the SCORE Off-Road Desert Series, the CART series, the Indy Racing League (Indy 500) and the former Winston Cup Series. “On the surface, leaving RCR was very difficult, and I told Richard in the middle of the season that I would never leave his organization to drive for a team other than one I owned,” Gordon said. “RCR is one of the all-time greatest NASCAR teams, and having an opportunity to work for Richard is what prepared me properly to be a team owner. We talked long and hard about my plans for 2005, and Richard asked me to consider staying in one of his cars for next season and beyond. “I gave it a lot of thought, but in the end, when I realized that sponsorship would come together for our own program, I decided that venturing out on my own was what was in my own best interest.”(robbygordon.com)

Toxic Cleanup at NASCAR Site Will Be Done By Spring
A decade-long effort to clean up petroleum contamination at the former GATX oil tank farm in Bloomfield, where developers want to build a NASCAR track, could wrap up as early as this spring. Oil leaks, spills and accidents have soaked tons of soil on the roughly 440 acres of industrial land, which was purchased last month for $100 million by track developer International Speedway Corp. (ISC). But the property's former owner, Chicago-based GATX Corp., has been doing state-mandated environmental work since the early 1990s, and site manager Greg Worobey said the bulk of the work should be finished in April. State Department of Environmental Conservation spokeswoman Maureen Wren wouldn't say if the property would be clean enough for a NASCAR track, explaining that the agency hasn't received any formal proposals for the site yet. "DEC's going to continue to monitor the cleanup on the site to ensure that it's protective of public health and the environment," she said.(Staten Island Advance)

Two Thrilling Premieres On CMT
CMT presents a night of NASCAR with two thrilling premieres including CMT 40 GREATEST NASCAR MOMENTS on Friday, Jan. 28 at 8:00-10:00 PM, ET/PT,* followed by DALE EARNHARDT JR. UNCUT: 60 MINUTES SPECIAL at 10:00-11:00 PM, ET/PT.*
• CMT 40 GREATEST NASCAR MOMENTS: Strap in and hang on as CMT looks at the most thrilling moments in stock car racing history in a new two-hour original special. It's full throttle when CMT counts down 40 of the most memorable wins, wrecks and rivalries in NASCAR history. Narrated by veteran race announcer Ken Squier, CMT 40 GREATEST NASCAR MOMENTS drives fans through more than 50 years of their favorite moments, from the first "Strictly Stock" race in 1949 to Dale Earnhardt's first Daytona 500 win, and features new interviews with Robert "Junior" Johnson, Richard Petty, Bobby Allison, Richard Childress, Jeff Gordon, Donnie Allison, Darrell Waltrip, NASCAR President Mike Helton and more.
• DALE EARNHARDT JR. UNCUT: 60 MINUTES SPECIAL: With Mike Wallace premieres exclusively on CMT with never-before-seen footage of one of NASCAR's elite, Dale Earnhardt Jr. In the in-depth special, Earnhardt Jr. discusses everything from his fiery crash in Sonoma, Calif. to his legendary father, Dale, to Dating for Dummies. Champion driver and friend Tony Stewart guests. Earnhardt Jr. crashed while practicing for a road race during a NASCAR off-week, suffering second-degree burns when his car was engulfed in flames. In the 14 seconds it took to get out of the car, it occurred to him that he might not make it out. Earnhardt Jr. thinks it's possible that his late father Dale provided the way out. Earnhardt Jr. also talks about his personal life - growing up as part of a racing dynasty, how he relaxes in his off time, and dating - on DALE EARNHARDT JR. UNCUT: 60 MINUTES SPECIAL.(PR)

Nadeau Considers Retirement
Nextel Cup driver Jerry Nadeau told MRN Radio/Sirius that he might never get back in a race car. The former No.01 U.S. Army Chevrolet driver was severely injured in a practice crash at the Richmond International Raceway in May 2003. "I can't find the fire I used to have," said Nadeau, "and I'm getting sick of waiting for that light switch to turn on in my brain. My doctors say it could take another year for me to get everything back that I'm going to get, and while I feel like I'm getting better every day, I'm starting to face the fact that I might not be able to race for a living anymore." The 32-year-old veteran of 177 Nextel Cup races needed to be cut out of his car after losing control between turns one and two and hitting the outside wall heavily during a Saturday practice session. He appeared motionless when he was removed from the vehicle and was later airlifted to the Medical College of Virginia. He suffered a severe head injury, a fractured left scapula and injuries to his lungs and ribs.(Houston Chronicle)

Office Depot Joins NASCAR
Office Depot has entered into a multiyear agreement with the National Association of Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) to become the sport's first official office products partner, beginning with the 2005 race season. The relationship with Daytona Beach-based NASCAR is Office Depot's primary national sponsorship platform this year and will include NASCAR-themed customer promotions; television, print and radio advertising; NASCAR displays in Office Depot stores; and advertising during NASCAR race telecasts on NBC, FOX and TNT. Also, NASCAR will become an Office Depot customer for office supplies and services. Office Depot's alliance with NASCAR signals a shift in the company's overall sponsorship portfolio, creating a national marketing platform that reaches millions of customers, the company says.(BizJournal)

NASCAR Mandates HANS Device In 2005
Beginning this season, competitors in NASCAR's top three series -- Nextel Cup, Busch and Craftsman Trucks -- will be required to wear the HANS (Head and Neck Support) device during practice, qualifying and race competition, NASCAR officials confirmed Monday. Until this season, drivers could choose between the HANS (a semi-hard collar made of carbon fiber and Kevlar) and the Hutchens (primarily composed of chest and waist safety straps) to meet NASCAR's requirement of use of a head and neck restraint. However, the Hutchens failed to meet minimum standards from testing by SFI Foundation Inc., NASCAR spokesman Mike Zizzo said.
To read more...(That's Racin')

More Pain For A.J. Foyt
A.J. Foyt has had a painful few months. Still recovering from a torn rotator cuff suffered when he fell off a tractor, the four-time Indy 500 winner suffered multiple facial scratches when he got caught in a tree limb while working on his ranch. "I look like I was in a fight with the wrong end of the shovel," he said.(Indy Star)

Busch Joins Teammates In Rolex
Nextel Cup champion Kurt Busch will join two Roush Racing teammates, 2003 champion Matt Kenseth and Greg Biffle, behind the wheel of the No. 49 Ford in the Rolex 24 on February 5 and 6 at Daytona International Speedway. Considering the exposure such Chevrolet drivers as Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Tony Stewart have received at the event, it's not surprising Ford called on its star power.(FOX Sports)

Trial Period For Stoddard?
Although Said's deal is for just a minimum of 10 races in 2005, the phone wasn't ringing off the hook with job offers after Stoddard was released from Bill Davis Racing. Expect Stoddard's trial period at MB/Sutton Motorsports to be just that. My guess is Stoddard has his eye on the No. 10 Chevrolet, which is in need of an overhaul after finishing 29th in points. Scott Riggs is the driver for the No. 10, with Doug Randolph as the crew chief.(FOX Sports)

What Makes A Real Race Fan?
Is it how many races you've attended, watched on television, bought the most merchandise, been around the sport longer than most people, or is it something else? In our second edition of "Point-Counterpoint", Mike Contreras and Patty Kay have their own ideas of what constitutes a "Real Race Fan" and both present their views on the subject.
To read the full article...
Point-Counterpoint: What Makes A Real Race Fan?

Garone Leaves Michael Waltrip Racing
Joe Garone, former Director of Competition for Michael Waltrip Racing, has left that position to accept a crew chief job with a brand new NASCAR Busch Series team, Furniture Row Racing, based in Denver, Colorado. Furniture Row Racing and Garone are a perfect match considering Colorado is his home state. The newly-formed team will field Chevrolets driven by NASCAR Regional Champion Jerry Robertson. Robertson will compete in a limited schedule through the 2005 season with aspirations of running an entire Busch Series season beginning in 2006.(Jayski)

Labonte's To Team Up For Rolex 24
NASCAR Nextel Cup stars Bobby and Terry Labonte will be teaming with Andretti-Green Racing's Bryan Herta and Dane Jan Magnussen for the February 5-6 Rolex 24 At Daytona. The four will be in one of two team cars fielded by Doran Racing, headed by team-owner Kevin Doran, who additionally heads Daytona Prototype constructor Doran Designs, builder of the Doran JE4 in which the Labonte's will compete with Pontiac power at their backs. While the upcoming Rolex 24-Hour will be Bobby Labonte's first such race, older brother Terry ran in five 24-hour races at Daytona in the early to mid-1980s, in 1984 scoring a GTO-class victory after a sixth-place overall finish in a Chevrolet Camaro co-driven by Gene Felton and car-owner Billy Hagan.(crash.net)

Robby Gordon Wins First Leg Of Dakar Rally
Stock car racer Robby Gordon won the opening leg of the Dakar Rally on Friday, the first American to capture a stage in the car division of the world's most difficult road race. Gordon, driving a Volkswagen in his first Dakar Rally, covered a six-kilometre sprint along a beach outside this Spanish city in four minutes 20 seconds. He was two seconds ahead of Hiroshi Masuoka of Japan and three seconds ahead of Giniel De Villiers of South Africa. The 8,936-kilometre race begins in earnest Saturday with a 917-kilometre leg from Barcelona to Granada. It ends Jan. 16 in Dakar, Senegal, completing a course that also runs through Morocco, Mauritania and Mali. A record total of 696 vehicles - cars, motorbikes and trucks - took part Friday and 39 countries were represented.(Auotnet.ca)
UPDATE..Gordon wins 4th stage - Holds overall lead
Robby Gordon (VW – n°317) has just clocked the fastest time of the day's 123km special between Rabat and Agadir. The US driver managed a time of 1h14'01" beating Peterhansel (MIT – n°306) by 53" and Saby (VW – n°307) at 1'08". Gordon conquers the new overall lead ahead of Peterhansel, 1min adrift.(robbygordon.com)
UPDATE...Gordon Drops To Seventh Overall
NASCAR driver Robby Gordon took the overall lead on Monday when he won the fourth stage but fell to seventh overall with a ninth-place finish Tuesday in the Dakar Rally. Former World Rally champion Colin McRae of Scotland reclaimed the overall lead Tuesday with his victory in the fifth stage -- his second win of the competition. His Nissan covered 237 miles between Agadir, Morocco, and Smara, in 3 hours, 37 minutes, 14 seconds, and McRae now leads teammate Giniel de Villiers by 5 minutes, 28 seconds. The 5,566-mile event ends Jan. 16 in Dakar, Senegal.(SI)

Steve Wallace Will Run Hooters ProCup Series
While Rusty Wallace is preparing for his "Last Call" with longtime sponsor Miller Lite, his son, Steve, is busy planning his own partnership with the Milwaukee Brewer in the Hooters ProCup Series. "Our first goal next year is to win the Rookie of the Year," said Wallace, who will compete in the $90,000 Miller Lite Rookie of the Year Program next season in Hooters ProCup. "We also set a goal to win the championship." Lofty goals for 17-year-old, but the son of the 1989 Winston Cup Champion is coming into 2005 fresh off his win in the prestigious Snowball Derby, a feat his dad was unable to complete in nine tries. "I think [winning the Snowball Derby] definitely gives us some momentum going into next year," said Wallace. "[The Snowball Derby] is one of the biggest races of the year. Some of the best short-track racers in the country were there. But before that, we won at Bristol, Music City and Coastal Plains in UARA." Wallace will be aided in his growth as a driver next season by Barry Dobson, veteran NASCAR crew chief. It will be Dobson's second stint mentoring a young Wallace. In 1989, Dobson was the crew chief during Rusty's 1989 Winston Cup championship campaign. "Barry is going to help out, and we're bringing two guys from our Late Model team," said Wallace. "Dad isn't that hands-on. He makes sure we have good equipment, but it's our job to go out and tame the short tracks." Wallace will run the family-familiar No. 27 in the Southern Division. Wallace's Dodge engines will be supplied by Maurice Petty and the chassis was built by Steve Levitt.(motorsport.com)

Andretti Will Make Hockey Appearance
The Indiana Ice is excited to announce that John Andretti will be the club's special guest on NASCAR Night, when the Ice battles the Waterloo Black Hawks on Friday, January 21 at 7 p.m. from Conseco Fieldhouse. As part of the event, Andretti will be dropping the puck, participating in intermission activities and signing autographs. In addition, fans will have an opportunity to have their photo taken with a NASCAR show car which will be at the arena.(OSC)

Mike Wallace Stunned With Loss Of Ride
"Scrooged" does not even begin to describe how Mike Wallace feels about being rideless for the holidays in 2004. On the day after Thanksgiving, Wallace was released from his Busch Series ride with Biagi Brothers Racing, despite being a minority owner of the team. He finds himself out of work on the verge of New Year's Eve and the 2005 NASCAR season. "Without a doubt it's heartbreaking, is actually what it is," Wallace said. "It caught me totally off guard. Three years before, Wallace, 45, formed Biagi Brothers Racing with California businessman Fred Biagi. Wallace organized the team out of his personal shop and acted as its manager, in addition to driving in first a limited half-schedule in 2002 that blossomed into the full campaign in 2004. But despite scoring one of his biggest career wins last summer at Daytona, and nearly following it up a week later with a second win, a month ago Wallace found a message on his answering machine informing him his driving services were no longer required. "I was totally shocked and devastated all at the same time," Wallace said. "I was out of town and came home to find out about it via a voice mail. Some people took it that I left the team on my own, and that's not at all what happened. "Only six days before we had announced our sponsorship program for 2005 with Pet Brands, continued support from Ford Motor Company and GEICO, with me being the driver." To say the future is unclear is totally accurate, Wallace said.(nascar.com)

Stewart Wins “Rumble in Fort Wayne” Midget Feature
Tony Stewart fought off the advances of Dave Darland Wednesday night to win the Midget feature event in the “Rumble in Fort Wayne” at the Fort Wayne, Indiana – Memorial Coliseum Expo Center. Stewart started second in the 60 lap race, took the lead on the 14th lap and never looked back. The top-ten finishers were: 1. Tony Stewart, 2. Dave Darland, 3. Rich Corson, 4. Tony Elliott, 5. Mel Kenyon, 6. Aaron Pierce, 7. David Thompson, 8. Derek Bischak, 9. Doug Cross, 10.
Smoke Fools Crowd With Pseudo Name
USAC Triple Crown winner and 2002 NASCAR champion Tony Stewart, racing under the pseudonym Mikey Fedorcak, stole the thunder in Wednesday’s 60-lap “Rumble in Ft. Wayne” USAC midget feature, winning the event at the 1/10-mile Ft. Wayne (Ind.) Memorial Coliseum. Stewart, who didn’t even have a ride for the event until Tuesday evening, led the final 47 laps of the race after passing polesitter Billy Wease on lap 14. He ran away with the race in his WTFD – Our Poker Gang Munchkin/Voltswagen in a car he purchased Tuesday from veteran Mike Fedorcak, holding off a hard-charging Dave Darland. “I’m just so proud of my dad Mike Fedorcak Sr. tonight; he did such a great job,” Stewart joked in victory lane. “We just had a lot of fun. The holiday season is about the only time I can get home, and I was with a lot of the USAC guys last night…We just had fun tonight. I was going to go as Smoke Johnson tonight, but everybody knows who Smoke Johnson is, so I tried something new and wanted to stump some people, at least until the feature was over. The good thing was that I only hit one guy tonight.” Stewart’s history with the car extends to several years ago, when he watched the car on television. He had also competed in the car indoors in multiple events. “I put a down payment on the car tonight,” said Stewart, who has now won a USAC-sanctioned race in every calendar year since 1991. “I remember watching this car on TV when it ran – the first Munchkin. It’s pretty amazing to have driven this car at the Hoosier (RCA) Dome and at Ft. Wayne. Ever since then, I’ve been trying to get the nerve to ask him if I could buy that car, and finally at 11:30 last night at the poker game it happened, so that’s why our sponsor is Our Gang Poker, because $105 was collected as part of the sponsorship. It just shows how much the guys at USAC always welcome me back and how much fun my friends had.”(Who Won)

Dale Earnhardt Jr. Prenuptial Poll
The popular television program "The Insider" ran a poll on December 28th asking the question.."Would you marry Dale Earnhardt Jr. if he insisted on a prenuptial agreement?" The results were revealed on Wednesday December 29th. -- 69% of the respondents said that they would.

Linda's Thoughts - Raw Had It AllLinda's Thoughts - Raw Had It All
Reported By Linda Robin

Talk about Linda's Thoughts - Raw Had It All on our Impact Fan Forums!

The first Raw of 2005 was a great way to start the New Year off. I loved the show from beginning to end. And believe me even though I have been looking forward to New Years Revolution, but Raw did one hell of a job getting me even more hyped for the show. The crowd from Uniondale Long Island was hot just about all night. I’ll tell you I wish I could have been there last night that’s how appealing the show was to me.

Eric Bischoff set up three hot matches with each member involved in Elimination Chamber on Sunday. It would be Chris Benoit vs. Batista. Edge vs. Chris Jericho and finally Triple H vs. Randy Orton. And this last one I didn’t expect to see until Wrestlemania. So this makes me wonder if Batista has replaced Randy and will take on Hunter in April. But back to the show. This all worked for me and the opening match was a good one. It was that monster Batista taking on Chris Benoit. You know watching Benoit week after week just makes me want more. His in ring work is so brilliant that he really has become one of my favorite wrestlers. And Batista as so many of us have noticed has improved so much with his wrestling. So with Batista’s improvement’s and Benoit’s expertise this one wasn’t going to fail. Batista did win and truthfully I figured he had too. Otherwise how could he keep bugging the hell out of Triple H? It’s Batista’s winning streak and his beat the clock victory that is totally getting the best of Hunter.

After the break, Flair and Hunter were backstage. Flair was just ecstatic about Batista’s win, remember it was over Benoit. Hunter seemed happy with the outcome as well. Dave walked in and again we have another strong segment between Hunter and Batista. After he enters Flair tells Hunter that all Hunter has to do his beat the four guys in the chamber and Batista will be there to see to it that Hunter is the champion. Hunter knows he can count on the big man, yet again I’m not buying this at all. I see a very worried and unsure Triple H. He doesn’t know if Batista is really with him. So things are going fine and then things explode. Batista out of the blue wants Hunter to pay the $100.00 that he owed Batista for beating the clock last week. Oh my God, the face on Triple H is worth seeing. This man is fuming that Batista would even think to bring that up. Hunter tells Flair to pay him, and there’s Ric all smiles taking the money out. But Batista wants it from Hunter not Flair. He tells Hunter that the bet was between them not Ric and Hunter is getting hotter and hotter.

Hunter finally takes out a $100.00 bill and gives it to Dave. Then Dave with a smile on his face says that he was only kidding, and asks Hunter when he is going to get a sense of humor he was only joking. I think at this point Triple H is ready to kill the guy. Batista is playing mind games with the Game and it’s getting better and better each time they interact. Batista wasn’t done he had one more game for Hunter a little later in the show. Also while this is all going on the fans are cheering for Batista, they cannot wait until this guy turns totally on Hunter and puts Triple H in his place. Okay now it’s another backstage segment with that freaky Snitzky being interviewed by clueless Maria. Maria asked him if was surprised that Kane was alive, and then Gene wanted to know if Maria liked surprises, and he whispered a few choice things in her ear. And that was all she needed and she RAN. After she left, Snizky then said that he had a surprise for Kane and that whatever happened yeah wasn’t his fault. Hey you have to hand it to this guy. His mic work is so weird that it’s funny. The guy is a total creep yet fun to watch and listen to on the mic.

Having Edge complaining non stop about Bisch naming Shawn Michaels as the ref for the chamber match definitely appeals to me. I want the heat to keep building between HBK and Edge because I would love to see these two in the ring together. I did enjoy Jericho vs. Edge. This was another sweet match. Raw lately is giving the fans matches that are almost pay per view quality and this one falls into that category. We’ve seen Jericho and Edge go at it before but watching them last night made me want more. If HBK and Edge aren’t on the menu then I would love to see Jericho and Edge continue. Edge beat Jericho only because he CHEATED by holding the ropes. As you can see Raw is just sailing along beautifully. Randy Orton really got serious last night. I feel that the creative team really screwed up something good with Randy. As of late I haven’t been that into him as a face, but last night he kept a straight face and focused on taking out Hunter. So I will give Randy thumbs up for not over doing it. Shelton Benjamin vs. Sylvan Grenier was next. And to be very honest with you, I didn’t follow this one. I guess I am just plain tired of La Resistance. But I did listen to Maven as he sat with Jerry Lawler and JR. As a guy gunning for the IC title I thought he did a cool job coming off like a cocky heel. And it’s now official it will be Shelton defending the title against Maven who seems to think that the title should be his. Okay and now for that great debate. I’m going to tell you, as much as I’m against all of this, I was mesmerized by this segment. There is no doubt that Hassan is a natural on the mic, in fact Daivari is no slouch either, but it was Hassan along with Lawler that really got me into this. Oh and wait the fans, how could I forget the reaction to the fans. My God it was like Rock and Austin had just re-appeared. The place was on fire. I still hate the anti American sentiment but the debate won me over.

Once the talking stopped, Hassan and Davari went on a rampage and took out Lawler and JR. and it wasn’t a pretty site. Okay seriously what a way to make you hate these two guys even more. Because of this Bischoff made the following match for Sunday. Jerry the King Lawler vs. Hassan. I have to say that I can do with out this match, but the debate was one strong segment. It was back to wrestling and Trish vs. Victoria was next. I liked this one a lot but I feel so bad that Victoria for some reason was pushed so far down. This is the woman who held the title a few times and played the whacko so well. And in the last few months she’s really used only when needed. She and Trish put on a tough match with Trish getting the win. I was glad to see that the creative team decided to build up heat between Trish and Lita. Too many times they let the women just slide by without any buildup when a pay per view is coming up. At least last night things were different. Trish was ready to give it to Lita on the mic and Lita came out to give it to Trish in the ring. Lita and Trish really went at it and then that weirdo Sniztky came out, and attacked Lita. He was already to do to Lita what he did to Kane back in October. He had her neck in the chair and just as he was about to do some damage to Lita, Kane’s music hit. And Kane came out and Gene and Kane brawled for a short time and then Snitzky escaped.

Kane then checked on his “wife” and Lita got one of those crazy smiles on her. I have to say having Kane come out even though I expected it was neat. And I would like to think that this Sunday Kane will beat the hell out of Snitzky. I don’t know about you, but I thought that Christy posing for pictures was a little much. And what a thrill Lindsay Lohan is one of Eugene’s favorites. But the thing I enjoyed was the segment with Regal alone with Eugene’s CD player and really getting into Lindsay’s song. Regal has a wonderful sense of humor, and it’s nice seeing it show up every now and then. So now it’s Eugene vs. Christian with Regal in Eugene’s corner and Tomko with Christian. I liked this one too. While it wasn’t the match of the night Eugene and Christian worked very well against each other. And add Tomko’s shot to the mouth of Regal and all of this turned out very well. Sunday Tomko and Christian will be going for the tag team titles against Eugene and Regal. This will be another match I will want to see.

Remember when I said that Batista wasn’t quite done screwing with Hunter’s mind? As Hunter was getting ready for his match against Orton, Flair wanted to make sure that he and Batista would be there for Hunter. Ah but Hunter didn’t want Batista out there. He made a flimsy excuse that Dave wasn’t needed because Hunter was going to prove that Randy was just a tag along with Evolution. Dave was fine with that and said he would watch and watch Triple H do his thing, and with that Hunter starts to leave and Batista then said, unless Randy kicks your ass. Oh Hunter wasn’t happy with that and Batista then said but we know that won’t happen, and he tells Hunter to lighten up. I’m telling you this has all be written so well I pray that the writers don’t screw this up this almost feud.

The main event was awesome. There were slow parts but the majority was done perfectly. I liked the match much more then Hunter and Randy’s match back in September. I watched both of these guys work their asses off and again this would have made for a nice pay per view match. These guys really got things heated up toward the end when Flair tried to interfere, and then Hunter managed to move out of the way causing Randy and the ref to bump heads. Naturally the ref was knocked out and this gave Hunter and Ric time to put Randy out of his misery. Hunter didn’t have his sledgehammer handy so he used the next best thing the ring bell. Only Randy was wise to that and was able to use it on Hunter. But Randy wasn’t safe because Batista hit him with a clothesline. That move brought out Benoit and he and Batista fought outside of the ring. And then HBK made his appearance dressed as a ref and goes to check on the fallen referee. As he’s checking, Edge is in position to spear Michaels. And just as Edge is about to work his magic Jericho saves the day by knocking Edge down and throwing him out of the ring. And then just like a HBK move Jericho goes over the ropes and lands on Batista and Edge. This is all so thrilling so exciting.

As Hunter wakes up he sees HBK and starts mouthing off to him unaware that Randy is waiting to lay the RKO on him. Finally Randy gets the chance but Hunter counteracts and then tries to pedigree Randy but Randy manages to take Hunter’s legs out from under him and tries a pin. That fails BUT, once Randy and Hunter are standing the RKO hits its target, Triple H. And Orton gets the victory, a well deserved victory. As I said this was a damn good main event and the buildup for New Years Revolution was just about perfect. I can’t say really one bad thing about the show, there was just too many good matches, some terrific backstage segments and a very heated debate that made it all work.

So on to Impact and Smackdown. I just read that Paul Heyman is expected to be at the tapings tonight. I guess they feel Heindenreich needs him, and he probably does. I am looking forward to “my” Kurt Angle; you know the big dope that thinks he’s EVERYTHING. I hope we have less diva’s out there and more hot matches. And since the holiday’s I haven’t watched Impact, so I don’t really know what’s going on, but I hope to catch it this Friday. Okay, one last thing in case anyone is interested and lives in the area, I was asked to post this. WWE Hardcore wrestling legend Mick Foley will be signing autographs on Saturday, January 22, 2005 from 1-3pm at the Knights of Columbus Hall, 191 Market Street in Kenilworth N.J. (just minutes off the Garden State Parkway, exit 138) For more information, contact Lenny Tripodi @ TripL1124@aol.com, or call 908- 447-9012. Pre-sale tickets are available for a discounted price. I have seen Mick in person and believe me he’s worth seeing. Okay I will be back on Friday and hopefully have nothing but good things to say about Impact and Smackdown.


Sunday, January 02, 2005

New York City - College Sports

Fabulous Freshman Peterson Fuels Oklahoma

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AP Sports Writer

January 2, 2005, 6:11 PM EST

MIAMI -- At 7 years old, Adrian Peterson was lifting weights and practicing football plays with his dad. "I guess that's how I developed a love for the sport," Oklahoma's freshman sensation said.

Nelson Peterson started his son on the road to stardom, but wasn't around to see him make it this far. In 1999, the elder Peterson was sent to federal prison in Texarkana, Texas, for laundering money for the sale of drugs.

Adrian was in seventh grade.

"It was tough," he said Sunday. "I just try to use it in a positive way. Instead holding my head down, I lifted my head up, just used that to motivate me to keep going and have the will and the drive to do the stuff that I want to do for him."

Even before Peterson and the second-ranked Sooners play No. 1 USC in the Orange Bowl on Tuesday night for the national title, he has already put together one of the greatest freshman seasons in the history of college football.

The 19-year-old Texan has run for 1,843 yards, 20 short of the NCAA freshman record set by Wisconsin's Ron Dayne. His second-place finish in the Heisman voting was the best for a frosh, topping Herschel Walker and Michael Vick, who both came in third.

Just two years ago, Maurice Clarett led Ohio State to a national championship as a freshman. Peterson is poised to do the same -- just as he planned it.

"This was one of my goals to come out of high school and play for a national championship," he said. "I'm not surprised to be here my freshman season because I knew what kind of team I was coming to."

Peterson came to Norman, Okla., from tiny Palestine, Texas, with a truckload of hype. Billed as a battering ram with a burst of speed, he had run for over 5,000 yards and 54 touchdowns in his final two high school seasons and was touted as one of the best runners ever produced by the Lone Star state.

Every college in the country wanted him. He had his pick of the powerhouses. He snubbed Texas, leaving many Longhorns shocked and angry, and narrowed his choices to Miami, Southern California and Oklahoma.

His recruiting trip to USC was his second to Los Angeles. He first visited UCLA.

"I had a lot of fun," he said. "I had a little too much fun."

Peterson won't say how close he was to becoming a Trojan, just that, "I made the best decision for me."

Despite all the Sooners' success in their first five seasons under coach Bob Stoops -- they won a national title in 2000 and played for another last year -- it had been decades since Oklahoma had a big-time back.

Before he ever played a down, Peterson was being compared to Billy Sims and Marcus Dupree.

The buildup didn't impress his new teammates, but Peterson's work ethic did.

"You don't expect a young guy to come in a perform the way he has," center Vince Carter said. "The funny thing about it is he said he was going to do it way back in the summer. He's a man of his word, apparently. He came in and earned the respect of all of us, especially the older guys. He came in and jumped right in and got to work."

Stoops tried to ease Peterson in. Peterson didn't start the first three games, sharing time with junior tailback Kejuan Jones.

When Jones went down with an injury in the third game, Peterson ran for 183 yards against Oregon. The 210-pounder got 146 in his first start against Texas Tech.

Then came the Texas game. Peterson didn't start, but did he ever finish off the Longhorns, running for 225 yards on 32 carries.

"Week by week, I got better and better," he said. "I learned a lot more about the game. The biggest thing for me was just slowing down and letting things develop."

Off the field, the soft-spoken small-town kid has been getting rock star treatment. Fans stake him out on campus, begging for autographs and wanting to snap a photo of him.

"Sometimes it gets overwhelming," he said. "I am not used to people knowing me everywhere I go. I am very low key. Sometimes I sit back and think, 'Is this really happening?'"

Peterson finished the season with a freshman-record 11 100-yard games, bringing balance to an offense that relied too much on Heisman-winning quarterback Jason White last season.

In fact, Peterson is now the focal point of the offense. He has the Trojans' full attention.

"When defensive guys try to tackle him it seems like they slip off him," USC linebacker Matt Grootegoed said. "The defensive guy may have a good solid attack on him and a good hit on him and they just fall off his legs or bounce off his shoulders."

Peterson's nickname is "AD." His father gave it to him and it's short for All Day -- as in how long Peterson can run.

Peterson talks to his father by phone and still gets some advice.

"He's been telling me to go out there and practice hard," he said, "which he knows I do anyway."

The Telegraph Online

Boston Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek and New England Patriots kicker Adam Vinatieri have something in common other than playing for world championship teams.

They’ve both climbed into their vehicles and driven to the same Nashua destination: a sports memorabilia shop on Main Street.

Varitek and Vinatieri - two of the most popular athletes in New England - aren’t the only sports celebrities to make the trek to Nashua Sports Collectibles to sign autographs.

Bill McLaughlin, owner of the 135 Main St. store, has also managed to get Red Sox outfielders Johnny Damon and Trot Nixon and designated hitter David Ortiz, Patriots linebacker TedyBruschi and Boston Bruins legend Cam Neely, among a scorecard of others, to come and sign at his small shop.

But the celebrity signings on Main Street came at a price. One Sox player charged close to $30,000 for his local appearance. Manny Ramirez’s autograph would have cost $300 per person.

With the popularity of sports figures, autographs are big business, and it doesn’t look as if the $2 billion-a-year industry is slowing.

“There’s a huge demand now with the Red Sox winning the World Series,” said autograph authenticator Bob Eaton, owner of R&R Enterprises of Bedford, a catalog-based autograph auction house. “There’s a frenzy: ‘I have to have it. I have to have it now.’ ”

Just check out eBay. A Babe Ruth autographed baseball was listed for $24,000 on the online marketplace last week. A Peyton Manning autographed rookie card had a bid of $3,150.

While there are some people who have the time to hang out near the players’ parking lot at Fenway Park or by the dugout or bullpen for a free autograph, most fans pay a steep price.

“It’s all about money,” said Dave McCarthy, executive director of the Ted Williams Museum in Hernando, Fla. “It’s affected everything. It’s affected the game. It’s affected this industry.”

Still, the hobby remains a captivating one for more than 16 million Americans.

“You might have never seen Babe Ruth, but here’s a document he signed for somebody or a baseball,” McCarthy said. “It’s unbelievable. I don’t know what other hobby has that fascination today.”

Breaking the bank?

Just how does McLaughlin stay on top of such a hot industry and get big-name pro athletes to make the trek to Nashua when there are plenty of paid signing opportunities closer to Boston?

The players themselves talk him up, according to Red Sox left fielder Dave Roberts, who signed at the store last month.

“I heard it was kind of like a small, mom-and-pop facility,” Roberts said in a telephone interview from his California home. “(My teammates) just said it was definitely not the corporate setting, a lot more laid back and just fan-friendly. It was appealing to me.”

It all started when McCarthy, who is good friends with Vinatieri, offered to bring the kicker to Nashua. The signing drew 850 people and kicked off the lineup of star athletes at Nashua Sports Collectibles.

McLaughlin has since earned some respect in the industry.

“He’s made a name for himself,” said Kim Zayotti, vice president and chief operating officer of Boston-based Blue Sky Sports & Entertainment, the agent who worked on getting various Red Sox players to McLaughlin’s store. “He’s honest, hardworking. He’s known for treating them with respect and not taking advantage of them.”

Roberts gained the love of Red Sox fans with his steal of second base in the ninth inning of Game 4 of the American League Championship Series against the New York Yankees. Roberts’ steal, which led to him scoring on a Bill Mueller single to tie the game, was considered a key play in launching the Red Sox to their come-from-behind series win.

Last month, tickets to the Roberts signing were $35, and included an autographed 8-by-10 color photograph of the outfielder. Roberts even posed with any autograph-seeker who happened to bring a camera. For every person in line, he stood up and shook their hand, McLaughlin said - something Roberts was not paid to do.

“Dave Roberts was the best guy I ever had up,” McLaughlin said.

So the public got to meet a player who had an impact on the team’s first World Series championship since 1918, got an autographed photo and didn’t break the bank to do it.

McLaughlin said he lost a couple thousand dollars on the deal. Still, he keeps a positive attitude.

“I never lose,” he said. “I’m always getting exposure.”

But skyrocketing fees have scared off some promoters, including Tom Bunevich of Tampa, Fla. Through his company, TB Sports Promotions, he hosted more than 300 athlete autograph events over eight years, but left the business in 1997.

“I looked at the fees and said, ‘It’s over,’ ” Bunevich said. “I made a very good living until ’96 or ’97, when the players’ fees started rising. I couldn’t pay (players) $20,000 and get it back by charging.”

As one player started charging a certain price, the others followed suit.

“They started raising the fees, and it just got out of hand and it never stopped,” Bunevich said.

McLaughlin agrees that what the athletes charge is getting out of hand. He paid $17,500 to another Sox player for his appearance. That player demanded another $10,000 because the session went longer than expected. So McLaughin said he emptied his cash register and borrowed money from friends to pay the celebrity so he’d stay. (McLaughlin wouldn’t name the player, citing a confidentiality clause).

Contrary to popular belief, McLaughlin doesn’t name the price of tickets to autograph events. Prices are based on what the player demands. And in most cases, McLaughlin said he doesn’t make a profit off the show. In the case of the player who cost him $27,500, he still made about $2,500 profit - and that’s because the show sold out ahead of time.

“I only charge what they charge me,” McLauglin said.

“Sometimes you wonder if it’s really worth it, then you get a show that just works,” McLaughlin said.

Ortiz, one of three athletes who has appeared at Nashua Sports Collectibles on two occasions, signed 250 autographs for the public and 300 privately for wholesalers. Because of the number of tickets sold for that September event, McLaughlin was able to make about $1 off every autograph Ortiz signed, or about $550.

But McLaughlin says he doesn’t do it for the money.

“If they didn’t charge anything, I wouldn’t charge a penny,” he said.

He does it because he enjoys giving his customers, many of whom are friends, a place where they can come and meet celebrities - something that, long ago, didn’t cost a dime.

To sign or not to sign

Autographs have been collected for as long as sports have been around.

But athletes have only been charging for autographs since about 1976, according to Eaton of R&R Enterprises.

“Mickey Mantle was the first big star to do it,” Eaton said. “In the ’40s and ’50s, you could just write to any sports athlete, people like Ty Cobb and Walter Johnson - all original Hall of Famers - you could write to them and they’d sign your cards and they’d mail them back to you.

“In the ’60s, they were good about it. Then this whole thing happened.”

Autographs today are more than a memory of “meeting” a pro athlete. They’re a way for people to make money - and the players know it.

“You definitely like to pick out the kids and people you know are genuine,” Roberts said.

Players start seeing the same people at the ballpark every day and begin to wonder about their intentions, he said.

Roberts said players carefully pick their spots on where to sign, and they typically don’t sign multiple items for people.

“Some major-league players and professional athletes are unwilling to sign because that small percentage of people who try to make money on us,” he said.

The Red Sox organization does not have a policy requiring players to sign autographs at the ballpark, but most Boston players sign frequently, Roberts said.

“It’s basically up to the players,” he said. “We have Fan Appreciation Day or Photo Day, when they can come onto the field and take pictures of players.”

But signing at the park - when you’re supposed to be taking batting practice or otherwise working - can get difficult, Roberts said.

“If you sign for 50 people, you’re going to make the 51st person upset, so it’s almost a no-win situation,” he said. “At a signing (event), it’s a lot easier.”

Some athletes refuse to sign altogether. Bill Russell, the biggest basketball star before Larry Bird and Michael Jordan, hated the idea that people wanted his signature. He thought it led to idolization.

One player who made it a ritual to sign at the exact same spot at Fenway Park, but refused to do autograph shows, is former Sox shortstop Nomar Garciaparra.

“You’ll never see him at an autograph show,” McCarthy said of Garciaparra, who is now with the Chicago Cubs. “He doesn’t like to do it. Some players don’t like doing that.”

The negative light that reselling an autograph casts on the hobby bothers Chris Merrow, 29, of Londonderry, who has been collecting sports autographs since he was 12.

“I don’t blame Tom Brady for not wanting to stop and sign for people because he knows people are going to turn around and try to sell them,” Merrow said.

Merrow is one of more than 16.7 million collectors around the world, according to Tri-Star Productions, a sports memorabilia company. And he’s probably one of many who collect autographs for the love of the sport, not for the money.

Merrow has autographs from Sox stars Tim Wakefield, Kevin Millar, Mueller and Ortiz.

He and a friend even got some Yankees’ signatures while staking out the Ritz-Carlton team hotel in Boston last season. There, Merrow was able to get a ball signed by Bernie Williams, Hideki Matsui and even longtime Yankees fan Billy Crystal.

“I don’t pay for autographs,” Merrow said. “For me, most of the fun is getting it on my own. I figure these guys make enough money, they can sign a baseball for me for free.”

Money talks

While some ballplayers still sign for free both inside and outside the ballparks, others will sign only when paid.

Unless you’re savvy enough to get autographs at the park - or at a team hotel - paid signings are probably the only place a fan will be able to get one, since not all athletes choose to sign at the ballparks.

“I still think players will sign for a kid no matter what,” said Brandon Steiner, founder and CEO of Steiner Sports Marketing & Memorabilia in New Rochelle, N.Y.

And that doesn’t bother Steiner, who has exclusivity agreements with Damon, Ortiz and Curt Schilling, meaning any autograph they sign must be sold through Steiner Sports, and anyone who wants to book those players for an autograph session must go through Steiner.

But anyone who wants an autograph from Roberts need only to send him a self-addressed, stamped envelope.

“I make sure I still get back to everyone,” Roberts said.

Some players don’t bother opening their fan mail, never mind responding to it. Fortunately for Red Sox fans in Southern New Hampshire, McLaughlin got Damon and Ortiz before they signed exclusives with Steiner.

In the future, agents such as Zayotti of Blue Sky Sports will have to go through Steiner before booking those athletes at Nashua Sports Collectibles.

People need to realize that pro athletes make lots of money but that their career is short compared to nonathletes, said Zayotti, who booked every Red Sox player who signed at Nashua Sports.

“A lot of them play until they’re 36, 37 or 38,” she said, adding that the athletes are deserving of the fees they charge. “It’s certainly not outrageous.”

For a one-time appearance signing, Zayotti said pro athletes charge anywhere from $3,000 for a one-and-a-half- or two-hour session to as much as $200,000 - a price former basketball superstar Jordan, for instance, might charge.

Agents, who make sure the contracts are drafted properly, get paid by the athlete. Zayotti’s commission ranges from 10 percent to 20 percent. Contracts outline agreements about the particular signing, such as the number of items both parties agree will be signed during the time period.

Going online

McLaughlin blames eBay for inflating the prices of autographs, thus making it harder for sports memorabilia dealers such as himself to bring in the most popular athletes.

Scott Whipps, manager of eBay’s sports collectibles category, said all eBay does is create an “open and transparent” marketplace for autographs.

The sports collectible category on eBay is a popular one, with nearly 853,000 listings on a daily basis. Those listings include autographs, souvenirs, old programs, ticket stubs and fan apparel.

But people such as McCarthy warn fans to be wary of what they buy on eBay and encourage them to go through reputable dealers such as McLaughlin.

Whipps said eBay has pulled “questionable” autographed items from the auction site. He recommends people buy items that are authenticated from a well-known authentication company, such as Professional Sports Authenticator or Global Authentication.

“If you don’t know the seller and you’re not familiar with the signee, there is always some form of risk,” Whipps said.

Another risk, says R&R’s Eaton, is spending too much money on something that won’t hold its value. A 16-by-20 signed team photo of the Red Sox that’s going for $3,000 or more will be worth only a fraction of that price in five years, Eaton said.

McCarthy agrees.

“Unfortunately, I’m afraid right now people are spending a lot of money on current players that aren’t going to be worth anything in five or 10 years,” he said. “Johnny Damon is a great player, but that’s it. He’s not a Hall of Famer.”

Autographs that will hold their value come from long-ago players such as Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle and Lou Gehrig, McCarthy said.

“It’s supply and demand,” he said. “Those players didn’t sign as much as the current players sign.”

McCarthy added it wasn’t the players who made autographs big business: “The public made it a business.”

Bunevich, the former promoter, blames not only the athlete charging the fees, but also the promoter willing to pay it.

“They took the novice collector out of it and ruined it,” Bunevich said. “Sports is big business in our country.

“We’ve overly fanatical about our heroes, especially if they have the ability to help us win. It’s sad.”

DefenseLINK News: Punk Rockers 'Vandals' Perform for Troops in Iraq

By Spc. Jan Critchfield
122nd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

BAGHDAD, Iraq, Jan. 1, 2005 -- Punk rock and military discipline -- not exactly like shampoo and conditioner. More like fire and ice. But for some soldiers able to see the Vandals kick out the jams here Dec. 28, it almost seemed like they were back on the block, stomping like there's no tomorrow.

The Vandals play for troops at Forward Operating Base Al-Amal in eastern Baghdad Dec. 28 during a tour of Iraq and Kuwait. Photo by Spc. Jan Critchfield, USA
(Click photo for screen-resolution image)

"I think it was an outstanding show -- I mean, a major relief on the tension out here," said Spc. Robert Skidmore of Company C, 115th Forward Support Battalion, while waiting in line to score an autograph. "I've been (following) these guys for some time. I had a bunch of blank tapes with Vandals written on it. You know, I didn't really know the names of the songs but just listened to them a lot when I was driving around in my car."

Skidmore said the performance provided a welcome respite for the soldiers. "We forgot we were in Iraq for a while," he said, indicating two buddies of his standing in the autograph line.

"We're having actually a great time in Iraq," bass player Joe Escalante said after the autograph session. "Everyone's nice. Everyone has a better attitude than we thought they'd have when we first got here. Everyone's a lot smarter than most people think the military is."

The Vandals' regular drummer was busy with other projects and didn't make the trip. Byron McMackin from the group Pennywise sat in for him.

The energy of the crowd at Al-Amal, the band said, far surpassed anywhere they had played during their tour of Iraq and Kuwait. "The show went very well," front man David Quackenbush said. "I know there's lot of people here that haven't heard of us, but it seemed like they were having a good time, and there were a lot of smiles. I think it was an awesome opportunity to come here and do this."

Monterey County Herald | 01/02/2005 | Australian singer makes her mark

Australian singer makes her mark

Chambers hoping to expand U.S. fan base


Associated Press

NEW YORK - A quick glance across Seventh Avenue reminds Kasey Chambers of her place in the pecking order of Australian entertainers, export division.

Madison Square Garden's outdoor message board advertises an upcoming performances by the Wiggles, the four-member group that makes preschoolers squeal all over the world. Chambers, meanwhile, sits undisturbed in a hotel coffee shop.

Back home, the autograph seekers would have been lining up to see this 27-year-old with the heart-melting voice and occasional Lucinda Williams kick.

Chambers' 2001 album ''Barricades & Brickwalls'' went platinum in Australia. ''Not Pretty Enough,'' her piercing song of self-doubt, topped the singles chart and her latest album ''Wayward Angel'' debuted at No. 1.

Grandmothers, teenagers, trendy pop fans -- her audience back home spans the spectrum. In the United States, she's a darling of critics and the alternative country crowd, but doesn't sell much.

''I appreciate having any sort of career over here, but it means more because I love coming over here,'' she said. ''It's really rewarding to me personally to come to the sort of places that we've been playing and I don't want to give that up.''

Tending to success in Australia, and the birth of 2-year-old son Talon kept Chambers from doing much traveling the past few years. She briefly toured the United States last fall.

With all the good news in her life the past few years, the overwhelming sadness of ''Wayward Angel'' is striking. The song ''Pony'' ties a more adult yearning to childhood memories, ''For Sale'' keeps fans at a distance and the one song clearly influenced by Talon is about her own imperfections.

By the time the rocking song of sexual obsession ''Guilty as Sin'' comes along, it's a necessary release.

''I always think that about every record I make, that this is going to make me sound like such a depressed person,'' she said. ''I'm not at all.''

But she only tends to write when she's sad; sitting in a room and pouring her heart out has no appeal when she's in a good mood. Most of her first album was written after her parents' marriage broke up.

''I'm sure a psychologist would have fun with all of my songs,'' she said. ''I wouldn't have fun with a psychologist looking at them.''

She also doesn't want to leave the impression that she's ungrateful for success. She usually loves the attention. One notable exception came when a nurse in an Australian hospital requested an autograph while Chambers was on a stretcher and sobbing while awaiting a minor surgical procedure.

''Ten years on the Nullabor and not seeing anyone besides my family makes me love being around people,'' she said. ''When I'm on tour, I never get a room by myself.''

Some translation: Until she was about 10, Chambers and her family lived off the land on the Nullabor Plain, a vast, largely unpopulated part of Australia. Only for a couple of months a year around the holidays did they come back to civilization -- to a town of 300 people.

Her formative music experiences were singing with her family around a campfire or listening to her father's tapes.

''I thought it was really normal,'' she said. ''I thought that everyone was listening to Emmylou Harris and Johnny Cash. It wasn't until I got into my teen years that I learned about pop music.''

Chambers' upbringing only seems unusual to her in retrospect.

''I only have fond memories about it,'' she said, ''but I could never do it again. I'm way too spoiled for that. To live there would be a real culture shock for me. It would be like going on 'Survivor.'''

She keeps her family close at hand. Her family had its own musical act, the Dead Ringer Band, when she was a teenager. Now her brother Nash produces her albums and her father plays guitar in her touring band.

It doesn't feel weird to have dad onstage with her; Chambers said she's never done a gig without him.

What happens when dad flubs a note? Do you have to yell at him?

''I'm not that fussy when it comes to being onstage,'' she said.

She'll have some good stories to tell Talon someday. Perhaps he'll ask why she considers herself a wayward angel. Not now, though.

''He doesn't have a clue that the album is named after that,'' she said. ''He only likes it when I sing Wiggles songs.''

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