Saturday, February 19, 2005
Do drivers agree, disagree with ... ?
By DAVID POOLE
The Charlotte Observer
Drives were asked to what degree to you agree or disagree with the following statements? (Ranked in order of how much agreement there was with each statement. A higher total score means a higher degree of agreement. The maximum would be 60, the minimum 15.)
1. NASCAR leaders SHOULD listen to my opinions about how the sport might be improved. – 55
2. Restrictor plates are necessary for cars racing at Talladega and Daytona – 50
3. Within five years, there will be at least one African-American driver competing full-time in the Cup series. – 49
4. A champion crowned under the Chase for the Nextel Cup format is aslegitimate a champion as one crowned under any previous system – 48.
(tied with) I am personally aware of people who have intentionally broken the rules in Nextel Cup competition. – 48
6. I believe that I have participated in races in which a car or cars have had an unfair advantage(s) with the knowledge of at least one NASCAR official. – 47
7. NASCAR’s leaders DO listen to my opinions about how the sport might be improved. – 43
8. Nextel Cup races are officiated fairly. – 42
9. NASCAR leadership will get back a Cup drivers who are critical of that leadership – 40
NASCAR should ban the signing of autographs in the Cup garage. – 40
11. Within five years, there will be at least one female driver competing full-time in the Cup series. – 39
12. NASCAR should limit the number of sets of tires Cup teams are allowed to use in a given race weekend – 38
13. Nextel Cup is too much about marketing and not enough about competition these days. – 34.
14. Sponsor appearances take up and unreasonable portion of my time. – 29
15. A NASCAR Nextel Cup race has been "fixed" by the sport’s officials. – 24
One of the classiest women in Hollywood came to Pearl Saturday to show off her line of home furnishings. Jaclyn Smith looks just like she did 25 years ago when she dazzled television audiences as one of Charlie's Angels. Mow Miskelly's is selling her lines of bedroom and dining room furniture, inspired by antiques she has admired over the years. Smith launched the home furnishing line two years ago, but she's adding to it.
“In April, I'm launching a line of upholstery with Hickory Hill, which is gonna be amazing, gorgeous, and of wonderful value. So it helps complete the picture of the room to have the upholstery and the case goods. I'm adding wallpaper,” Smith detailed.
Smith also took time Saturday morning to sign autographs and snap pictures for a long line of fans.
Friday, February 18, 2005
Pop star Britney Spears expressed her anger at 'Us' magazine after it published unauthorized photographs of her honeymoon with husband Kevin Federline last week.
Spears said she deliberately choose a location in Fiji where she would be promised 'absolute privacy and seclusion' but apparently, staff members at the resort the couple was staying at took photographs of them on the beach and sold it to the magazine.
'Us' magazine released a statement saying, 'Britney should start her own magazine if she'd like to dictate her own coverage.'
Spears released a statement saying, 'Unfortunately, staff members took photographs of us, which we allowed them to take once we were assured they were being taken only for private use in a scrap book they gave us as a souvenir.'
A response from 'Us' magazine raised doubts about Spears' position. 'Coming from a celebrity who sold pictures of both her wedding and her stepdaughter, it's unlikely the issue here is privacy.'
The photographs in question show Spears and Federline on the beach and eating breakfast at their resort on Fiji.
This is not the first time Spears has had tension with 'Us' magazine. After she and Federline married in September, 'Us' claimed the wedding was a hoax, which Spears called 'ludicrous.'
It remains to be seen is Spears and Federline will take any legal action against 'Us' but regardless, the photos have already been released.
Thursday, February 17, 2005
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Sharon Stoner jumped with glee after her husband, Cork, showed off the ballcap that had just been autographed by NASCAR driver Jeremy Mayfield. That was on top of the autographs they had gotten earlier in the week from Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Tony Stewart.
"The only thing I can't get is Michael Waltrip's autograph," said Stoner, 53, a medical technician from Sharon, Pa. "OOOHH. I love him."
Aficionados at the Daytona International Speedway have unprecedented access this week to their favorite drivers thanks to a multimillion dollar fan-friendly redesign of the infield.
The infield now includes a FanZone where 44 of the drivers' garage slots have individual windows through which fans can watch crews prepare cars for Sunday's Daytona 500 and its preliminary races. They also can pass T-shirts and ballcaps through small openings for drivers to autograph.
Drivers often times come out and pose for pictures and driver Rusty Wallace even signed a model car for a fan.
But some of the drivers' crews aren't happy about being scrutinized so closely by the fans or distracted by fans taking photos or knocking on the windows. Some humorously placed signs in the windows that said "Don't feed the animals" and "We're locked in, please send food."
"We're monkeys in a cage. That's what everybody says," driver Kyle Busch said Wednesday. "Sometimes it's a little stressful, but otherwise it's all right. You're pulled over to sign autographs when you're still trying to work on your race car."
Driver Travis Kvapil enjoyed seeing fans on the railed deck above the garage, snapping photos and shouting down to their favorite drivers. The viewing deck also was a new addition.
"It's really cool to see them stand on top, and actually be a part of the race," said Kvapil, who added his crew didn't mind the garage scrutiny from fans. "We're not really one of the high profile deals either, so it would probably be a different situation for Dale Jr."
Daytona International Speedway officials had been planning the changes, which cost tens of millions of dollars, for years in order to keep pace with newer tracks around the country and allow more interaction for NASCAR fans, who are some of the most loyal in any sport.
"It's an effort to give fans who come to the race track a little more than just seeing cars go around," said David Talley, a spokesman for the speedway.
Other changes to the infield underscore NASCAR's move toward a higher-end market as reflected in the recent name change of NASCAR's top series from a cigarette-maker to a telecommunications company.
No longer are fans in the infield limited to beer, hot dogs, hamburgers and pizza. A new outdoor dining area called Bistro offers shrimp skewers, jumbo lump blue crab cake, crab and artichoke dip, rare roast beef on focaccia bread and martinis. Bistro's chefs wear white hats.
"You look at the number of Fortune 500 companies that are involved in this and the guests they bring down. This is an opportunity for them to have high class fare so to speak," Talley said.
Other changes to the infield are outside the FanZone. A wooden dock was installed on the infield's lake, around which fans have created a weeklong village of motor homes and campers. A new clubhouse with pool tables, Golden Tee golf video games and kitchen and Internet access was build for fans who pay $2,500 to park their motor homes along the lakeshore.
Randy and Connie Kellick, Rusty Wallace fans who came from Mer Rouge, La., in their motor home, said the changes are worth any additional money. The price to enter FanZone is $20 for most of the week but $85 for the Daytona 500.
"Last year, if you didn't have a garage pass or a pit pass or anything, you had no access to what was going on behind the scenes. You didn't even get close to the cars," said Connie Kellick, who farms 5,000 acres with her husband. "This way people feel more a part of it."
Tuesday, February 15, 2005
Pop star and actress Jennifer Lopez has unveiled her first clothing line in New York.
Supermodel Naomi Campbell was among those strutting her stuff - unsurprisingly to the diva's own music - on the New York catwalk.
The show was divided into three parts corresponding to phases of Lopez's life: her start in the Bronx, her music career and her current red-carpet lifestyle.
Denim shorts and pants, cashmere sweaters, flowered babydoll tops and, controversially, lots and lots of fur featured heavily in her collection.
"I was very pleasantly surprised," said Jane Larkworthy from W magazine. "I love satin pants and I love fur."
But Lopez left some fashionistas unimpressed. She was booed by many watching the show on monitors outside the venue.
Monday, February 14, 2005
Angels Fest gets high marks
Players, fans enjoy second annual event
By Mike Scarr / MLB.com
Jose Molina told the audience that it took hard work to become a Major League catcher. (Chris Carlson/AP)
ANAHEIM -- That was then and this is clearly now.
On Sunday, the Angels concluded Angels Fest 2005, a two-day event that also happened to be the club's second annual.
In years past, the Angels went on the road to meet and greet their fans in the community. It was an effective outreach effort, but their scope has since changed and now they throw open their doors to allow fans to come celebrate in their own backyard.
And why not? As members in the club of World Series champions and fresh off an American League West title, the club sees the tremendous emotional value in staging what in essence is an Angelpalooza.
"We didn't have these," Tim Salmon told a radio audience and a crowd gathered in front of the booth for Angels flagship station KSPN 710 AM. "I went on a couple of caravans and we went to malls and it was like, 'Yeah, we're ballplayers.' This is totally different. This is great."
On a caravan, a club will target a specific location and often go to community centers, schools or youth ballfields. With Angels Fest, the club set Angel Stadium as the target, and it proved to be effective as several thousand fans frequented the attractions set up in a series of booths and a large exhibition tent in the stadium's parking lot.
"It's a great way for the fans to come out and move around at their own pace and see what they want to see," Andre Ojeda of Van Nuys said of Angels Fest. "I went to the Dodgers caravan, too, and that was cool. I like them both. But this whole carnival-like atmosphere is really great."
Where Saturday started wet, the skies were clear for Sunday's event and it showed as the crowd swelled throughout the day. Of particular notice were the lines for autographs and photos that curled about the parking lot, but those who waited patiently found it to be worth their time.
"You just have to enjoy the experience," said Bill Crowley of Yorba Linda, who waited on line for autographs of Jarrod Washburn and Brendan Donnelly with his wife, Kelly, and son, Brendan.
Bill Crowley said that he plans to attend four to five Angels games in the upcoming season while Brendan Crowley said he won't miss one of the 27 games he bought as his share of a season-ticket package. With Spring Training just around the corner, Brendan Crowley scanned the exhibits of Angels Fest with an omnipresent smile on his face.
"It's baseball and it's cool," he said.
The Crowleys, like the vast majority of the crowd over the two days, were proudly dressed in red. It's that bright hue that has helped the team establish a strong identity -- a maturity, so to speak.
"Everybody identifies with the red," Salmon said. "Before, no one knew what color we were. Earlier in my career, we used to have about 22,000 fans at games and it was laid back, but now it is entirely different. It's exciting and that is the way it should be."
Like Saturday's Angel Fest, Sunday's installment featured an audition for the opportunity to sing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" at a future Angels game. There was also an Angels version of the '70s game show "Match Game," featuring manager Mike Scioscia as one of the panelists.
In another corner were pitching coach Bud Black and catcher Jose Molina, where the pair conducted a question-and-answer session with a large group of interested parents and their children. While explaining the rotation of a curveball, Black also cautioned that kids younger than 15 should refrain from trying to purposely spin the ball, while Molina, when asked what it took to be a Major League catcher, cited hard work and gave full credit to his parents.
It was merely a glimpse of what is to come, but the fans at Angels Fest 2005 liked what they saw.
Mike Scarr is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
Sunday, February 13, 2005
Rock ’em Sock ’em
The Pro Bowl could be headed
for another offensive shootout
similar to last year’s 55-52
By Dave Reardon
It's certainly true that many players voted into the Pro Bowl over the years have opted out because of various injuries -- some legit, some questionable. For today's game at Aloha Stadium, 13 of the AFC and NFC's 86 all-stars are replacements.
AFC All-Stars vs. NFC All-Stars
Kickoff: 2:30 p.m.
Where: Aloha Stadium
It's not always hangnails and paper cuts that slice into Pro Bowl playing time, though. Troy Aikman left the game early one year so he could fly back to the mainland in time for a memorabilia show. It is not known if the now-retired Cowboys star quarterback signed enough autographs at the event to make up for the $10,000 fine levied upon him by the NFL.
Last week Aikman, now an NFL analyst for FOX, said no one wants to play in the Pro Bowl, and the game should be abolished. Aikman also said words to the effect that everything about the Pro Bowl is great -- except the game itself.
If that's the true sentiment of the players in today's game, they did a pretty good job of hiding it at yesterday's final walk-throughs.
"We enjoy playing the game," said Baltimore Ravens offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden, on the eve of his eighth Pro Bowl. "We also enjoy being around the other players and interacting with the fans. It's a great week highlighted by a great event."
Philadelphia's Terrell Owens played in last Sunday's Super Bowl after completing a tremendous job of rehabbing a sprained ankle and broken foot. He's out today, but he practiced the last two days for the NFC, running routes and catching passes.
Is it possible T.O. could get some P.T. today?
"No, he's definitely out, he's been replaced (by the Rams' Torry Holt)," NFL director of game operations for special events Bill McConnell said. "But he wants to play, and that's what it's all about."
So does Mike Vick.
Vick, the Falcons' quarterback and one of the league's most gifted athletes, is eager to show it at his first Pro Bowl today.
"Definitely, I'm focused on this game a whole lot," Vick told the Associated Press this week. "I've been thinking about it since our season ended in Atlanta. This is the first chance I'm going to have to line up against the best of the best."
Vick passed for 2,323 yards and 14 touchdowns, and rushed for 902 yards and three TDs in 2004.
The Colts' Peyton Manning, New England's Tom Brady and San Diego's Drew Brees will quarterback the AFC, with Vick, Philadelphia's Donovan McNabb and Minnesota's Daunte Culpepper running the show for the NFC.
If that's not enough firepower, maybe Dan Marino and Steve Young can go in and sling it around. They will be introduced today as part of the next Hall of Fame class.
When the NFC goes on offense
All eyes will be on Mike Vick, since this is the Pro Bowl debut for the multi-talented Atlanta quarterback. Although Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb was intercepted three times and sacked four in last week's Super Bowl loss, he and the Vikings' Daunte Culpepper are coming off their best seasons. Packers running back Ahman Green has 29 career 100-yard games, and he'll be working behind fullback William Henderson, his Green Bay teammate, for the first time in the Pro Bowl.
When the AFC goes on offense
The Colts' Peyton Manning to Marvin Harrison is the most prolific quarterback-to-wide receiver combination in NFL history. Also, the Chargers' Drew Brees has a familiar target in tight end Antonio Gates. Gates had 13 TDs this year. The Patriots' Tom Brady doesn't have a teammate to throw to, but Chiefs tight end Tony Gonzalez worked with all three QBs on some special routes this week in practice. Steelers running back Jerome Bettis will get some carries since this may be his swan song, but look for the AFC to throw early and often.
"I wouldn't want to be a defensive coordinator for this game," NFC coach Jim Mora of the Falcons said. "We might let Mike run around a little bit, and we've got two other great quarterbacks and we've got three great running backs and four great receivers."
All six quarterbacks were the first choices of the voting by fans, players and coaches. No one suddenly developed a cough or a limp. Their presence could lead to something similar to the offensive fireworks of last year's 55-52 NFC victory.
"That was great for the fans and the players," Manning said. "I don't know if we can duplicate it, but I hope the AFC can win this time."
Maybe Broncos safety John Lynch can supply some of the defense the AFC was missing last year -- his previous five Pro Bowl appearances were as a member of the NFC's Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
"For our first (AFC team) meeting, I went to the wrong locker room," Lynch said. "It's pretty clear the power has shifted to the AFC. It's good to be on this side."
It will be twice as good if his team wins. The winning players today get $35,000 each and those on the losing team get $17,500.
Cowboys defensive tackle La'Roi Glover, in his fifth Pro Bowl, said the experience is about more than making money to pay for the trips of family and friends who came along to Hawaii.
"It never gets old," Glover said. "It's always a good time. It's always a fun time seeing some of the new guys that are coming up for the first time and seeing some of the older guys that have been here more times than I have. You can never have a bad time in Hawaii."
Today's game is the last official event for Jim Steeg as NFL senior vice president in charge of special events. Steeg leaves after 26 years of running the Super Bowl and Pro Bowl to be chief operating officer of the San Diego Chargers. Steeg is replaced by former NHL executive Frank Supovitz.
Also, it might be the final game for Steelers running back Jerome Bettis. "The Bus" was brought in as an injury replacement for the Patriots' Corey Dillon this week. Bettis is contemplating retirement after 12 seasons, including four Pro Bowls.
Today's game is officially a sell-out, and will be shown live locally on ESPN.