Go figure: A Gopher mascot making fun of the other team

The Associated Press

MINNEAPOLIS — The University of Minnesota is apologizing after its Goldy Gopher mascot poked fun at a Penn State football player who was praying before last week’s game.

A video made before Saturday’s game at State College shows Penn State defensive end Jerome Hayes kneeling in prayer in the end zone.

Goldy Gopher kneels in front of Hayes. When Hayes stands up, so does Goldy. The mascot tries to make some contact, but Hayes ignores him and trots back to the bench.

Minnesota spokesman Dan Wolter says the stunt was “plainly a mistake” and the mascot didn’t intend to offend anyone or trivialize religion.

Penn State athletics spokesman Brian Siegrist had no comment Thursday. Penn State won the game 20-0.

How about the fact the Gopher gets a fist bump from a Minnesota cheerleader after doing what he did?

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Pepperdine’s Keion Bell catapults to Internet fame as the Evel Knievel of hoop dunkers

This YouTube clip of Pepperdine sophomore Keion Bell’s staged dunk at the Waves’ Blue & Orange Madness event — the first practice of the season, at midnight last Friday — has ridden a wave of media madness over the last couple of days.

First, the incidentals of the clip — the 6-foot-3 Bell leaps over five teammates, four of which are 6-2 and the other 6-1. That doesn’t necessarily speak well of the depth of this Waves’ team, but it effectively works in Bell’s favor here. A year ago, as a freshman, he leaped over three teammates to do a similiar move.

Pepperdine Sports Information Director Roger Horne says a school employee shot the video from Firestone Fieldhouse and loaded it up. Since then, it has been show on ESPN “SportsCenter” top plays (No. 2, on Wednesday), SI.com’s “Hot Clicks” (linked here), Dime Magazine online (linked here), Rivals.com (linked here, which includes another dunk Bell did at a Kobe Bryant camp at LMU before), and it was a headline story on the Yahoo! home page.

The Pasadena High standout was named to the WCC All-Freshman team last year after averaging team bests of 12.9 points, 2.2 assists and 1.5 steals.

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Take us out of ’09, Vinny …

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How Vin Scully called the last half of the Dodgers’ 2009 season Wednesday night in Philadelphia during Game 5 of the NLCS:

For starters:

Philadelphia, with a commanding lead of 10-4. And for the Dodgers, another sad story on a road trip littered with broken hearts … If this holds up their record in the postseason on the road since 1995 will be 3-11. Philadelphia will be 5-0 against them in the postseason and will have won 10 of the last 12 .. .with the reasonable assumption the Dodgers won’t be coming back with six in the ninth inning ….

After Mark Loretta strikes out for the first out:

For the Dodgers, another long, heartbreaking trip back to Los Angeles. As Eugene O’Neal wrote a long days journey into night and back into day because it’s already quarter to 12 … The television cameras are watching Manny Ramirez. I think they’re saying he’s going to take a shower….

After Rafael Furcal pops out foul to the catcher for the second out:

We are one out away from bedlam in Philadelphia. And how about this: The Philadephia Municipal Authority has greased every pole in the city so the kids, in their enthusiasm, are unable to climb the poles. How about that?
What Brad Lidge is trying to do now is grease the Dodgers so they slip and slide all the way back to Los Angeles.
If you like crowd noise, this is the place to be …

As Ronnie Belliard flies out to end the game:

2 and 1. High fly ball … it is very playable … and it is caught by Shawn Victorino … and the Phillies have won the National League pennant back to back years and head to the World Series.
The totals on the ballgame, for the Phillies, 10 runs 10 hits, they had four home runs … the Dodgers, four runs, eight hits, three solo home runs … Durbin is the winner and Padilla the loser.
And for the Dodgers, another sad story of runners in scoring positon. So when you think about it for the Dodgers, their luck had run out. If you say that to the Dodgers you might get a dirty look, but they were lucky when Matt Holiday lost a ball in the lights (in NLDS Game 2). They were lucky when the bunt got past Chan Ho Park (in the NLCS Game 2, leading to a winning rally). But the Phillies came on strong to win it. Back to back champions.
Rick and Charley will be back in a minute. We’ll be back.

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Damage control (too late) for ESPN’s Steve Phillips, to make you all feel better about yourself

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ESPN has suspended allowed MLB analyst and former New York Mets GM Steve Phillips to go away for awhile.

See: Reynolds, Harold; worse.

Phillips, acknowledging a relationship with a 22-year-old ESPN employee that was reported today in the New York Post: “I am deeply sorry that I have put my family and colleagues through this. It is a personal matter that I will not comment on further. I have, however, asked for a leave of absence to address this with my family and to avoid any unnecessary distractions through the balance of the baseball playoffs.”

ESPN’s statement: “We were aware of this and took appropriate disciplinary action at the time. We have granted Steve’s request for an extended leave of absence to allow him to address it. We have no further comment.”

More, if you need it:
==The NY Post (linked here)
==The Big Lead (linked here)
==Deadspin (linked here)

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Without the benefit of replay, the World of Joe Buck, after his first cup o’ Joe, sometime early PDT on Oct. 21, 2009

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Joe Buck should not be confused with Joe Buck Yourself (above, and linked here), a “hellbilly punk rocker”/musician who has named himself as such because he’s now a solo act and seems to want to just piss everyone off.

Unlike Joe Buck, Fox baseball broadcaster, who simply seemed to somehow upset viewers by appearing on their TV sets next to Tim McCarver every fall by escaping his NFL beat for a few weeks just to get this baseball thing out of the way.

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If the temperature’s 72 degrees in Southern California, and it’s October, we hold our wet finger to the air and check to see which way the mild breeze is blowing — today it’s in Joe Buck’s favor.

Especially when compared to anything occuring in the life of the third generation offspring of Harry Caray over there on the cable net covering the Dodgers and Phillies, someone who can’t seem to put two cliches together with a missed call without getting shredded.

Some have a bad game. Others a bad series. Chip Caray is having a Bartman-esque postseason.

What the Buck.

Neil Best at New York’s Newsday (linked here) writes in a Tuesday column:

“Has Fox’s Joe Buck suddenly become a beloved, Scully-like figure? Where are the missives about his too-cool-for-school vibe, or his alleged bias against one team or the other. … His scream-free, economy-of-words style turns off some on the NFL trail … It is a good fit for baseball, thought. … Buck has been in fine form during the ALCS, throwing in just enough humor to keep it fun, but not so much that it takes away from the seriousness.”

Will Leitch writes in New York Magazine’s website (linked here) that this ALCS is “The Salvation of Joe Buck.” Although, he didn’t write the headline. He just pointed out:

“Whatever your thoughts about Buck — we’ve always liked him, but we understand why tons of people were never able to get past the Randy Moss ‘despicable act’ incident — he knows how to call a baseball game. It’s not an easy job, as Chip Caray is showing every night. Reasonable competitence, at this point, is enough to make us stand and cheer.”

Damning, with more faint praise.

Buck isn’t going to faint over it. He didn’t know about the stories until I mentioned it to him this morning.

“I’m in a no-Google zone,” said Buck. “I tell my kids: Here are the rules about the Internet: Always know who you’re talking to, and don’t Google dad’s name.”

When I invaded the Fox broadcast booth hours before Tuesday’s first-pitch at Angel Stadium, the things I wanted to run past Buck were a lot different from what we put off to talk about on this morning.

Such as (and please, make the effort to link on the jump):

Continue reading

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Our Daily Dread: All ball-buggy over this flu thing

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The New York Times reports in its recent health section that, from altar wine to beer pong, everything’s flu-accessable in today’s world (linked here).

How about sliders, sinkers and spitballs?

There’s Dr. Oz on the TV. If we only had a brain to figure out what he was saying about all this. He claims “hospitals are gearing up” because “this year’s cold and flu season is shaping up to be one of the worst ever.”

Not to scare anyone or anything. But when Dr. Oz is drawing more strange looks than Ozzy Ozborne, something’s amiss.

But wait — the Cleveland Cavaliers say LeBron James’ flu was so serious recently, they were treating it like H1N1. James later said he thought he got the flu from having a flu shot.

That’s not a Cavalier attitude.

We fear what we do not understand, we hate what we understand even less, we condescend to what we understand least of all.

Or something like that.

We hear that Jeff Weaver had the flu last week. It wasn’t why he was left off the Dodgers’ NLCS playoff roster, though. Joe Torre wanted another left-handed reliever. He could have used Weaver in the Game 1 loss when Clayton Kershaw started walking a tightrope in the fifth inning, but Weaver couldn’t have pitched anyway. He was sick. So was Russell Martin, but he played. So was Don Mattingly, but he coached.

And spread germs.

It’s germ warfare to consider, just as much as blowing on your hand on a cold night if you’re a pitcher.

What if all this scarry stuff happens, and the World Series next week ends up as one big petri dish of germs to spread around? Could Bud Selig be walking into a problem much bigger than umpire ineptness?

It’s nothing to sneeze at.

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Last August, the first confirmed cases of the H1N1 flu to hit Japanese pro baseball happened to the Nippon Ham Fighters.

Get it. Swine flu. Ham Fighters.

Pitcher Naoki Miyanishi, outfielder Terrmel Sledge and coach Junichi Fukura had it. Catcher Shota Ohno and pitcher Takayuki Kanamori also had the flu, but it wasn’t confirmed as H1N1. Another 22 players were tested.

In July, an 18-year-old from Kenosha, Wisc., an all-state baseball player, died from flu-like infection.

It’s not just baseball. University of Washington hoops coach Lorezo Romar had only seven players for Monday’s practice. The other seven were sick — he said it was the worst illness he’s had on a team since he began coaching in 1992 as a UCLA assistant.

Romar said none have been diagnosed with swine flu.

A half hour ago, the Associated Press reported that Cleveland Browns coach Eric Mangini said 12 players, including Pro Bowl nose tackle Shaun Rogers and five other starters, are home with flulike symptoms and he plans to adjust his practice. That’s about 1/4 of their 45-man roster unavailable.

He implied that the players had not yet been tested for H1N1 virus.

“We’re trying at the first signs of any kind of illness to get the guys home and out of the building,” Mangini said. “We’re working as hard as we can to promote things to prevent the illness and impressing the importance of things like sleep. It’s that time of year and unfortunately we have quite a few guys who are dealing with it. We’ll adjust practice, we’ll work around it and continue to move forward.”

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has already decided that if a team has at least six players knocked out because of illness — if it’s the flu, even more so — they can get roster dispensation to add players.

So what about the fans at this point? If they’re getting sick and don’t show up, do the games go on?

This is hardly a tragic situation. Yet. But to hear everyone talk about it …

President Obama said he got his flu shot Tuesday, and his family had already been vaccinated. He said he wanted to wait his turn before lining up to be vaccinated since kids, young adults, pregnant women and health care workers should be first in line.

Out of the way. I’m the boss. Give me that thing before someone gives me something else first.

Cough it up.

Be safe out there, sports fans. And athletes. And hospital emergency staffs.

And Mariano Rivera – quit spitting on baseballs. It’s condesending.

More on what NBA, MLB and NFL teams are doing about the swine flu (linked here)

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Your L.A. Week 7 NFL TV viewing schedule: Jim Zorn will not be allowed to make a call on what games you see this weekend

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Sorry, no flex schedule in affect this week. Not for NBC. Nor (ever) for ESPN. But the later could really, really, super use it.

Unless Tony Kornheiser wants to be a special guest in the booth, walking to FedEx Field from his home to take it all in.

Seriously, you want to be forced to show at Redskins game right now? Not even Jim Zorn wants to be there.

SUNDAY:

== 10 a.m., Channel 2: San Diego at Kansas City (with Dick Enberg and Dan Fouts, instead of Indianapolis-St. Louis or New England-Tampa Bay)

== 10 a.m., Channel 11: Minnesota at Pittsburgh (with Kenny Albert, Moose Johnston and Tony Siragusa, instead of Green Bay-Cleveland or San Francisco-Houston)

== 1 p.m., Channel 11: Atlanta at Dallas (with Thom Brennnammennannenn, Troy Aikman and Pamela Oliver, instead of Chicago-Cincinnati or New Orleans-Miami on Fox, or New York Jets-Oakland or Buffalo-Carolina on CBS)

== 5:20 p.m., Channel 4: Arizona at New York Giants (with Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth and Andrea Kremer).

MONDAY:

== 5:30 p.m., ESPN: Philadelphia at Washington (with Mike Tirico, Ron Jaworski and Jon Gruden)

Bye week: Denver, Baltimore, Detroit, Jacksonville, Tennessee and Madden NFL ’10.

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Your Week 8 L.A. college football TV choices: Buying into BYU, versus not seeing the game on Versus if you have DirecTV

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Eight-four-six-oh-one. The zip code of Provo, Utaaar.

Nice play, again, by ESPN and ABC in not always promoting its top college game of the week.

Two weeks ago, it was pretty much a no-brainer. ESPN’s “College GameDay” crew had to be at Baton Rouge, La., before the Florida-LSU contest, which was to be carried on CBS.

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This weekend, they’ll make the covered wagon trek to Provo, Utah, to see how the locals react to No. 16 BYU playing host to No. 8 Texas Christian in a game that’ll be seen later in the day on Versus (still not available on DirecTV). It beats having it again on The Mtn., or CBS College Sports, or ESPNU.

Remember, BYU opened the season with a 14-13 win over then No. 3 Oklahoma. Last week, they won at San Diego State by 10.

Yes, the BYUers are excited. On the official school athletic site, it’s the top story in the rotation.

“It’s a tremendous opportunity for BYU to host ESPN College GameDay on our campus,” said BYU Director of Athletics Tom Holmoe in a prepared statement so he could speak clearly. “The TCU game is sold out and the ESPN shows should add to the great college atmosphere we expect this Saturday.”

ESPN Radio, at least, will cover the contest, with Ryen Russillo, Trevor Matich and Brad Edwards.

Kirk Herbstreit can’t be all that excited. Afterward being unable to find any hard liquor to get him started in the entire state of Utah, he has to find some transportation that’ll take him to Columbia, Missouri, before No. 3 Texas faces the Tigers (a game that won’t be shown in L.A. because of regional USC-Oregon State coverage).

With BCS rankings listed for the first time this week (with all the numbers related to it linked here):

THE LOCALS:

== 3:30 p.m., Prime Ticket: UCLA at No. 22 Arizona (with Steve Physioc and James Washington)
== 5 p.m., Channel 7: No. 7 USC vs. Oregon State, Coliseum (with Mike Patrick, Craig James and Heather Cox)

WEDNESDAY:

== 5 p.m., ESPN: Tulsa at UTEP (with Dave Neal and Andre Ware)

THURSDAY:

== 4:30 p.m., ESPNU: Prairie View A&M at Southern (with Charlie Neal and Jay Walker)
== 5 p.m., ESPN: Florida State at North Carolina (with Chris Fowler, Craig James, Jesse Palmer and Erin Andrews)

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FRIDAY:

== 5 p.m., ESPN2: Rutgers at Army (with Joe Tessitore and Rod Gilmore) Wear these cool helmets, and we’re watching it instead of a potential Game 6 of the NLCS.

SATURDAY:

== 7-to-9 a.m. ESPN: “College GameDay” at Provo, Utah, before BYU faces TCU, with Chris Fowler, Lee Corso, Kirk Herbstreit and Desmond Howard.
== 9 a.m., ESPN: Minnesota at No. 19 Ohio State (with Dave Pasch, Chris Spielman and Bob Griese)
== 9 a.m., ESPN2: Illinois at Purdue (with Pam Ward and Ray Bentley)
== 9 a.m., ESPNU: Connecticut at No. 23 West Virginia (with Clay Matvick and David Diaz-Infante)
== 9 a.m., Big Ten Network: Indiana at Northwestern (with Ari Wolfe, Mark Campbell and Mike Hall)
== 9 a.m., Versus: No. 15 Oklahoma State at Baylor (with Ron Thulin, Kelly Stouffer and Lewis Johnson)
== 9:30 a.m., FSN West: Iowa State at Nebraska (with Joel Meyers, Dave Lapham and Jim Knox)
== 10:30 a.m., ESPN360.com: Maryland at Duke (with Dave Weekley and Jeff Genyk)

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== 12:30 p.m., Channel 4: Boston College at Notre Dame (with Tom Hammond, Pat Haden and Alex Flanagan)
== 12:30 p.m., Channel 2: Tennessee at No. 2 Alabama (with Verne Lundquist, Gary Danielson and Tracy Wolfson)
== 12:30 p.m., ESPN: No. 13 Penn State at Michigan (with Sean McDonough, Matt Millen and Holly Rowe)
== 12:30 p.m., Channel 7: No. 11 Oregon at Washington (with Terry Gannon and David Norrie)
== 12:30 p.m., ESPN PPV: Oklahoma at No. 25 Kansas (with Ron Franklin and Ed Cunningham)
== 12:30 p.m., ESPN PPV: Clemson at No. 10 Miami (with Bob Wischusen and Brian Griese)
== 12:30 p.m, ESPNU: Louisville at No. 5 Cincinnati (with Todd Harris and Charles Arbuckle)
== 12:30 p.m., CBS College Sports: Wake Forest at Navy (with Craig Bolerjack and Randy Cross)
== 1 p.m., Versus: Air Force at No. 18 Utah (with Ted Robinson, Anthony Herron and Lindsay Soto)
== 1 p.m., Mtn: San Diego State at Colorado State (with James Bates, Todd Christensen and Roger Bailey)

== 4 p.m., Big Ten Network: No. 6 Iowa at Michigan State (with Wayne Larrivee, Chris Martin and Lisa Byington)
== 4 p.m., ESPNU: Vanderbilt at No. 24 South Carolina (with Eric Collins and Brock Huard)
== 4:30 p.m., Versus: No. 6 TCU at No. 18 BYU (with Joe Beninati, Glenn Parker and Tim Neverett)
== 4:30 p.m., ESPN: No. 1 Florida at Mississippi State (with Brad Nessler, Todd Blackledge and Erin Andrews)
== 4:30 p.m., ESPN2: Auburn at No. 9 LSU (with Mark Jones and Bob Davie)
== 4:30 p.m., CBS College Sports: SMU at No. 17 Houston (with Dave Ryan and Akbar Gbaja-Biamila)
== 5 p.m., Mtn.: UNLV at New Mexico (with Dan Gutowsky, Robert Griffith and Toby Christensen)
== 5 p.m., ESPN PPV: No. 3 Texas at Missouri (with Brent Musburger, Kirk Herbstreit and Lisa Salters)

== 7:15 p.m., Prime Ticket: Arizona State at Stanford (with Barry Tompkins, Petros Papadakis and Michael Eaves)
== 7:15 p.m., ESPNU: Fresno State at New Mexico State (with Carter Blackburn and JC Pearson)

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Our Daily Dread: Narrowing down Staples Center memories to just … a 10 spot?

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My ass will finally be on the glass.

For the first time since Staples Center has been offiically opened, I’ve been set up for front-row, ice-level, curse-worthy seats at a Kings game.

And, even if it goes as expected, this might not make my Top 10 Staples Center moments.

Ten years ago today, the Kings played the first game at Staples Center — a 2-2 tie against the Boston Bruins. On Oct. 20, 1999, the first goal was scored by … Boston’s Anson Carter. Yup, an African-American dude with dreadlocks.

And I believe a caucasian player, Bryant Big Country Reeves, scored the first basket in a pro basketball game when Vancouver played the Lakers on Nov. 3, 1999.

Top 10 lists are being assembled lately because the downtown facility labeled after a office supply store – which had its original 20-year, $116 million naming rights deal expanded into a “lifetime” contract this week — is celebrating Year 10 of existence.
Aside from the obvious Lakers championships, Grammy moments and Michael Jackson tributes, we’ve had our lasting experiences in the place that replaced the Forum and Sports Arena as the fancy new hangout.

Not so much mental pictures, we have things that are more sound orientated:

10. Early 1999, there’s Michael Roth, the AEG know-it-all and facility caretaker, handing out yellow hardhats to a group of media people to tour the construction site well before anyone should be allowed to go in. There’s heavy work going on, sparks flying from welders, dark and dusty. Sun coming through where the roof isn’t finished. Hallways that lead to nowhere. A construction guy yells at us to get out. Roth yells back that it’s OK. I’m looking for an unmarked exit.

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9. Opening night, Oct. 17, 1999. The first Bruce Springsteen concert, to open the place. I’m in the lower bowl, and the acoustics aren’t so good. My brother says the same thing, and he’s sitting up in the 300 section.

8. February, 2004. After the loudest player intros for the NBA All-Star game by OutKast – Hey, Ya! – and a halftime show by Beyonce that nearly blew the speakers out, I’m out by the third quarter with a migrane, off to watch the rest at home on TNT.

7. Father’s Day, 2003. My first Avengers game. Chuck E. Cheese has fewer bells and whistles.

6. On the final day of the 2002 World Figure Skating Championships, it’s the Sunday exhibition free skate. During an intermission, I’m goofing around with my niece, recreating a routine we’d just seen. I pick her up and toss her in the air.
Thud.
In that part of the building outside the suites, I didn’t realize the ceiling was only about 7-feet high.
My bad.

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5. Maybe it’s season two in the building for the Kings. During warmups, a puck is smacked, high over the net. And over the bowl of spectators. And into the Arena Club restaurant.
I’m going to imagine it landed in someone’s dinner, and became a scene from a Marx Brothers’ film: “Waiter, there’s a puck in my soup.”
With the nets in place now, that won’t happen again.

4. In the underground VIP parking area, during the first quarter of a Lakers-Cavaliers game last President’s Day. Celebs, and players, come and go, but here’s a late-arriving Don Rickles and his wife, just out of a limo, waiting to board an electric cart to be driven to their courtside seats. I decide to pretend to be an arena greeter, helping Mr. Rickles to his ride. He gives me a smirk and pat on the back, but wouldn’t offer a tip. It got us both to laugh.

3. There are sirens blaring outside in the moments after the Lakers capture the 2000 NBA title following Game 6 on June 19. “We’re locked in,” someone yells. Looking through the windows, it makes sense. There’s a police car on fire right outside. How many does Staples Center sleep for the night?

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2. Chick Hearn had to take a leave of absence from his Laker calling duties because of heart valve surgery in 2001. He hadn’t been to a game for months until he arrived for a contest on March 29, 2002, and sat in the media section 111 at courtside, not far from his broadcasting perch. When he saw shown on the video scoreboard, the applause grew and grew. He stood and waved. I sat right below him. He put his hand on my shoulder. Less than five months later, at almost the exact same spot, a line of Laker fans waited for hours to pass through Staples Center on the day of his funeral. They filed past the seat where he worked, empty, with his stat sheets spread out and his headset on the table. The quietness was deafening.

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1. On Saturday afternoon in January, 2008, 9-year-old girl Isabella Masenga of Pasadena saw her first Kings game in person. She suffers from such severe autism, she can’t speak, and only communicated on a new portable keyboard she had just got for Christmas. The stimulus of the crowd noise, flashing lights and goal horns could have been overwhelming, but it did nothing to affect Bellie’s condition – except make her happy. Bellie sat in a suite, looked down upon the ice, and studied the game with a profound calmness. Her parents, Tom and Suzanne, were speechless. So was I.

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StubHub can sell you Cubs’ playoff tickets, whether they’re not in or not

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This email arrived in the inbox via StubHub ticket pimps at about 1:30 p.m. today:

Where do you want to sit?

Hey Tom,

Be there alongside your Chicago Cubs as they chase baseball immortality. Go to StubHub, where you’ll find a fantastic selection of tickets to every playoff game – so you experience the championship chase live and in person. Check it out. Go to StubHub and get the seats you want today.

At 4:41 p.m. — more than three hours later — came this followup:

Hi Tom,

Earlier today, an email promoting Chicago Cubs postseason tickets was sent to you. This, unfortunately, was a mistake. We regret the error and apologize for any inconvenience or confusion this may have caused.

Sincerely,
The StubHub Team

The tagline to that message:

Have tickets you can’t use?
Sell them on StubHub.com. We make it EASY with no listing fees, express shipping and access to millions of eager fans. You just set your price. Leave shipment tracking and customer service to us.

As a matter of fact, I have some Cubs’ playoff tickets I’ve been trying to unload…

Maybe I should go to this StubHub link (linked here)
Or here (at this link)
Or here (at this link)

UPDATE
== Apparently, Mets fans got this email as well (linked here)

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