Flying wieners can put your eye out in K.C.

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The Associated Press

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Baseball fans who sit six rows behind the third-base dugout at the Kansas City Royals’ stadium know they might have to duck a few foul balls.

But a Kansas man says it was a flying hot dog, not a baseball, that almost put his eye out last year.

John Coomer has filed a lawsuit against the Royals seeking more than $25,000 for injuries he sustained Sept. 8 when he was smacked in the eye with a hot dog chucked by the team’s mascot, Sluggerrr.

Coomer said the wayward wiener caused a detached retina and the development of cataracts in his left eye.

The Royals declined to comment Tuesday. The team is looking for someone new to wear the mascot’s large lion costume, spokesman Toby Cook says there’s “no connection” with the hot dog affair.

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AVP names Mike Dodd its new commish

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Mike Dodd, one of pro beach volleyball’s all-time greatest players, was named commissioner of the AVP today, CEO Jason Hodell announced.

The Manhattan Beach native and resident out of Mira Costa High won 75 titles over an 18-year career (1980-’97), including silver medal at the 1996 Summer Olympics with the late Mike Whitmarsh. Dodd is second all-time in tournaments played (337), sixth in titles and fourth in career earnings ($1.67 million).

“Mike is the perfect fit for a strategy of embracing the core volleyball community,” said Hodell. “His skills as a player, coach, broadcaster and ambassador are world class.”

Dodd says he comes into this position “humbled … One of my goals is to usher in an era of cooperation between the AVP, USA Volleyball, FIVB, and of course all our grass roots organizations and affiliate partners. I believe by working together, we can all better serve the sponsors and players we represent.”

Dodd, 53, was the coach for AVP stars Jake Gibb and Sean Rosenthal at the recent Beijing Olympics. He also captained Team USA to a win over Brazil’s best players in the inaugural AVP World Challenge last September.

Dodd is a five-time Manhattan Beach Open winner, with Tim Hovland (’82, ’83, ’84, ’85 and ’87). In 2009 he became the first to coach the men’s and women’s champions of the same Manhattan Beach Open (Gibb and Rosenthal on the men’s side and Nicole Branagh and Elaine Youngs on the women). He also has been doing broadcasting for NBC’s AVP coverage.

Leonard Armato has been the highest-profile AVP commissioner until he resigned in April, 2009. Armato had built the AVP from six events in 2002 to 31 events in 2008. Hodell had been acting commissioner since then. The AVP released a 12-event tour for this summer, beginning in April (linked here). Dodd actually played in one of his first beach events with Armato, the 1975 Marine Street Men’s Open and finished seventh.

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The book on Jerry West: His likes, dislikes, and more dislikes…

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Five quick things you’ll learn after reading the 1-pound “Jerry West: The Life and Legend of a Basketball Icon” by Roland Lazenby, which hit bookstores today ($28, ESPN Books, 448 pages, linked here):

== West, on his relationship with Phil Jackson, and how it played in West leaving the organization’s front office: “People think I hate Phil Jackson. I don’t hate him. I really didn’t know Phil. We are so different in terms of how he interacts with people. I was used to kidding around with people . . . Phil was just different.”

== West, on having to fire Pat Riley as coach in the early ’90s: “People think I hated Pat Riley or didn’t like him. That’s not true either. . . There are certain coaches that draw attention and want attention. And there are others that don’t. I think the ones who don’t want it, their natures are different. Pat is a little bit more flamboyant in his approach to things . . .”

== West, on when the Lakers moved from the Forum to Staples Center in 1999: “I’m not sure (owner) Jerry Buss realized how important that was. It was a license to print money. Jerry had been a great operator and a terrific owner. We used to talk almost every day when he was in his office. But then he quit coming to the office.”

== West, hired as the Lakers coach in 1976, tried to talk then-owner Jack Kent Cooke into acquiring Julius Erving, to play alongside Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, when the ABA folded that year. The Philadelphia 76ers made it happen instead. “We could have gotten Julius Erving,” West says. “That’s the only time I ever got involved. I told Mr. Cooke, ‘You should take this guy. . .’ He told me it wasn’t my money; it was his money. So be it. I never talked to him about those things anymore.”
West later admits, even after admitting that he set aside his differences later with Cooke before Cooke’s death: “Nevertheless, I really didn’t like Jack Kent Cooke.”

== A sexy excerpt that has been circulating in pre-book release had to do with Magic Johnson’s sexual escapades with the Lakers, where the team sauna at the Forum was a place for him and other players to entertain women, even right after games, before Johnson would put on a robe and do post-game media interviews. Said West: “I cared. I did things for those guys. It was ridiculous, some of the things I did for those guys. If the public knew, they’d be outraged. It was a pretty crazy period for us.”

Lazenby has since address that excerpt (linked here) on his “Laker Noise” blog to try to give it some context.

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Your summer of AVP: Half the time in California, the other half wondering why there aren’t more events anywhere

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The 12-stop AVP pro beach volleyball tour broke out its schedule with a mid-April start date, a mid-September end date and a lot of holes in between.

Santa Barbara (April 29-May 2), Huntington Beach (June 3-6), Hermosa Beach (July 16-18), Malibu (July 24-25), San Francisco (Aug. 14-15), Manhattan Beach (Aug. 19-22) and a yet-to-be-announced South Bay site (Sept. 17-19) make up half the schedule.

The other stops: Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. (the April 16-18 opener), Virginia Beach, Va. (June 18-20), Belmar, N.J. (June 25-27), Chicago (Aug. 27-29) and Mason, Ohio (Sept. 3-5).

Nothing on Fourth of July weekend? Hmm…

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Ruggiero’s next reality show pursuit: Racing through Antarctica airports

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She’s already been around the world on philanthropic endeavors, including helping the New York Islanders with a program to help China improve its hockey program. And she’s been in Donald Trump’s boardroom, lasting until the final three on the 2007 season of “The Apprentice.”

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So a story in today’s Sports Business Daily reveals that Simi Valley’s Angela Ruggiero has been pitching her agent to get her a spot on the CBS reality show, “Amazing Race,” paired up with U.S. Olympic gymnast Shawn Johnson, shouldn’t be all that surprising.

Both are clients of agent Sheryl Shade, of Shade Global (linked here), whose Olympic clients include Paul and Morgan Hamm, Bela Karolyi, Blaine Wilson, Chellsie Memmel plus Mia Hamm and Kristine Lilly.

“The two of them, then nag me constantly (about ‘Amazing Race,’) Shade told SBJ writer Erik Swanson about Ruggiero and Johnson.

The SBJ story points on that Ruggiero has built up “an impressive endorsement portfolio” featuring Nike, Visa, Coca-Cola, Easton and Qwest Communications. Shade said that going forward, Ruggiero has a focus on expanding women’s hockey with young girls.

“Olympic sports sponsorships aren’t always about the money,” Shade said. “It’s the opportunities they can offer and where they can take her. …”

It’s not like you’re going to confuse Angela Ruggiero with Angela Lansbury.

“She’s got the goods, and she’s got the substance behind her,” Shade says of her client. “And she’s very good with the press and the media. This is a sport where sponsors every day want to make sure that whomever they choose to have an association with their brands can actually talk and do the messaging correctly. And I think that’s one of the reasons they look at her.”

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