As usual, life is good for Snoop Dogg.
He's calling from the 7-Eleven on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood, where he's promoting a partnership in 7-Eleven's "Cup for the Cause" charity campaign. "We came together to create a cup for my Snoop Youth Football League. So it's beautiful," he said.
Another children's project dear to his heart right now is his planned collaboration with his kids, Corde and Cordell, with the kids of good friends David and Victoria Beckham, on a Christmas recording.
"We're in talks for that," Snoop said. "I'm waiting for Becks to get back in town. I'm about the kids. You got his kids and my kids, and we bring them together."
Unsure of whether it'll be a one-song project or a whole album, Snoop is aiming for big things. Asked if he's got any ideas for any more collaborators, he didn't hesitate.
"Maybe Justin Bieber. I've got Bieber Fever," he said. "We don't play no games, man."
But for now, Snoop was clearly enjoying his clout with the 7-Eleven folks, saying they were letting him have his pick of the store.
"Frosted Flakes, Cup of Noodles, whatever," he said. "I gotta usually pay."
The Cup for the Cause project allows celebs to design limited-edition coffee cups to be sold in stores nationwide. 7-Eleven guarantees a $250,000 minimum donation to each charity, but donations could increase depending on the number of cups sold. Previous participants in the program include Nicole Richie, Good Charlotte's Joel and Benji Madden, Jennifer Hudson and noted jorts-wearer John Cena.
"I actually designed [the cup]," Snoop said, saying he sat with Joe Cool, the artist who's done all his artwork dating to his first album, Doggystyle, and told him what he wanted it to look like.
Despite the Bieber Fever, Snoop was feeling characteristically good. Maybe it was the free Slurpees.
"Life is beautiful, man."
Scoop Jackson talks with former New Orleans Saints quarterback Bobby Hebert and defensive end Bobby McCray about just how important the return of football is to New Orleans and the Gulf Coast region.
Tragically, there is still no Labor Day Telethon for OAS (Overtrained Athlete Syndrome), the heartbreaking condition that caused Houston Texans linebacker Brian Cushing to test positive for HCG, earning him a four-game suspension. Cushing, a former USC All-American, says he worked out so hard and for so long that when he stopped it caused a "testosterone imbalance" at the exact same time he was being tested.
Unfortunately, science won't be able to begin trying to find a cure for OAS anytime soon, as their Pyrex beakers are already overflowing with experiments concerning:
DEAD TWIN SYNDROME
Pro cyclist Tyler Hamilton said there was someone else's blood in his system because he had a twin who died in his mother's womb.
EVIL MASSEUSE SYNDROME
Sprinter Justin Gatlin said a vindictive masseuse rubbed steroid cream into his legs.
Jose Bautista leads the league in home runs. Think about that. If someone had told you in March that come September, Bautista would be light years ahead of the likes of Alex Rodriguez, you'd think you were dreaming. A journeyman role player with a legit shot at hitting 50 home runs?
Inevitably, the dreaded word "fluke" comes to mind. Surely, he'll come down to earth, the aliens possessing his body will leave, and fastballs will suddenly stop being attracted, as if magnetized, to the sweet spot of his bat at the ideal moment his violent swing crashes through the strike zone. We won't know for a while whether Bautista's season will turn out to be a fluke or simply his coming-out party, but he's hardly the first player to put together a dominating season out of nowhere.
To pick out the biggest flukes in baseball history, I took every season since 1900 (minimum 300 PA or 100 IP) and compared the rate stats of hitters and pitchers to the rest of their careers. So, who makes up the Fluke All-Stars?
Catcher: Rick Wilkins
1993 Chicago Cubs
Wilkins had a solid sophomore season in 1992, hitting .270/.344/.414 while splitting time with Joe Girardi. That was enough for the Cubs to leave Girardi exposed in the expansion draft, in which he was taken by the Colorado Rockies. Given the full-time job in 1993 at the age of 26, Wilkins hit .303/.376/.561 with 30 home runs. The Cubs were convinced they had a young star behind the plate, but in 1994 Wilkins fought the Mendoza Line in April en route to a .227 batting average. Wilkins lost his starting job in 1995 and was done as a full-timer in another year.
First base: Jim Hickman
1970 Chicago Cubs
At the age of 33, Hickman was firmly established as a decent fourth outfielder, with a career .236/.306/.395 line. Don Young was the Cubs' center fielder in 1969, but nobody in Chicago wanted anything to do with him after some terrible defensive play down the stretch, and Hickman started the season in center. Hickman hit .315/.419/.582 with 32 HRs and 115 RBIs for the Cubs, moving to first regularly after Ernie Banks started missing time due to arthritis. In 1971, Hickman promptly lost more than 200 points of OPS, and while still a valuable part-timer, never came anywhere near his 1970 totals again.
Dan Lauria joined ESPN 980 in Washington D.C. with Steve Czaban and Andy Pollin to discuss why his lead role in the upcoming Broadway play "Lombardi", based on the David Maraniss' biography "When Pride Still Mattered: A Life of Vince Lombardi."
On him being a natural for the Lombardi role:
"I understood Coach Lombardi and I think he would've been happy that someone like me, who was born in Brooklyn, an Italian-American ... I think that was very important to Coach Lombardi. [I'm] very dedicated to our art and I think Coach Lombardi would've appreciated that."
On what he discovered about Lombardi in researching for the role:
"It wasn't that it was so much of a surprise, because being an old football player I had read all the books already. Re-reading them now ... kind of refreshed me on the stories. ... Basically what everybody agreed on was Coach Lombardi, who was a physics and chemistry teacher in high school for 10 years, a very bright young man, he simplified football. Sonny [Jurgensen] said he learned to read defenses so easily under Vince Lombardi because he simplified on what to look for in the defensive setups."
On whether the language in the play is family-friendly:
"You can take your young kids to it because what we considered a curse back then is not a curse word now. He didn't use any four-letter words. He said 'Damnit' a lot or 'Aw, jeez,' but he said it in a way that it might as well have been the worst curse words in the world. It's a matter of attitude more than language."
"Fifty-plus years watching college football, and I have to keep reminding myself that that isn't Oregon State."
That was the reaction of one Uni Watch reader during last night's game between Boise State and, well, a team that looked a lot like Oregon State. It was actually Virginia Tech, natch, but you could be forgiven for not realizing that, given the black/orange color scheme.
A few thoughts about the much-discussed uniforms:
• What's the point of wearing your school name on your chest if it's barely legible?
• Tech's matte-finish helmet looked pretty good. Not the stripes -- those were unnecessary -- but the flat finish itself. More teams should try this.
• Because the Boise jerseys were made of different types of fabric, different areas changed colors at different rates as the players perspired, creating a weird two-tone gray effect -- not good.
• Also not good: Having one "B" on one knee. Does every single scrap of real estate need to have a logo or graphic?
Really, though, these uniforms resist conventional design critiques, because they weren't created for conventional reasons. A uniform is normally supposed to provide a stable identity for the team and create a familiar set of visual signifiers for fans to recognize and bond with. But there was nothing familiar or stable about these designs, which were created mainly to create hype for a Nike product line. The sad part about this is that some of Nike's more noteworthy innovations here (like the matte helmet, or the cool one-sided logo on Boise's helmet, which they should use on a full-time basis) end up getting lost amidst all the clutter. More to the point, the game didn't need any hype, visual or otherwise -- it was a great match-up on paper, and even better on the field. Wouldn't it have been nice if the schools had been wearing their usual colors and designs?
You can see where this is going: Soon teams will have a "special" uniform for nearly every game of the season. But by trying to convince us that every game is special, the implicit message is that none of them are.
Editor's note: CLICK HERE for a full Uni Watch breakdown of all the new Nike Pro Combat college uniforms.
Well, that's one way to throw a soccer ball into play. It's also a good way to earn a red card.
Have you seen a cool sports-related video that deserves to go viral? Email me tips at firstname.lastname@example.org. Videos should be recent and less than 2 minutes.
Doug Flutie just might be busier these days than he ever was playing football.
The former NFL and CFL quarterback heads up the Doug Flutie Jr. Foundation for Autism, plays in two baseball leagues, plays drums in a band with his brothers and still manages to toss the pigskin around on the occasional Sunday.
Flutie has also just been named to the advisory board of the Capital One Cup; a new program where NCAA Division I athletics programs will be graded for their cumulative on-field performance. The top two schools will each receive $200,000 for graduate-level scholarships for student-athletes and will be announced at the ESPY Awards.
Page 2 got to talk with Flutie about the new program and what's been keeping him busy since he retired from football.
What do you think about being a part of the Capital One Cup?
"It's pretty exciting. I'm fired up to be a part of it. The Capital One Cup will be awarded by a point system that shows excellence in all sports- football, basketball, baseball all the way to field hockey, tennis, volleyball, you name it. It'll become bragging rights on campus."
How often do you get a chance to throw the football around these days?
"Once and a while during the spring. My nephew and his buddies every Sunday morning throughout the entire year -- they go out for about two hours and play touch football. Every now and then, for the fun of it, I'll go down and quarterback. I'm all-time QB."
A short time ago, in a land not so far away, Ole Miss faced the tall task of selecting a new on-field mascot. We take a closer look at a true story where a group of passionate students nominated Admiral Ackbar to become their mascot. It's not crazy, it's sports.
When school starts on Long Island this week, Brian Spallina will trade in his lacrosse stick for a ruler. Instead of throwing cross checks and accruing penalty minutes, he will correct journals and write subtraction problems on a blackboard.
And he'll trade in four-letter words for, well, four-letter words.
"It's like he suffers from multiple personality disorder. One moment he's normal, and when he puts on that jersey and grabs his lacrosse stick look out," said Quint Kessenich, ESPN's lacrosse analyst and former Johns Hopkins goalie.
Such is Spallina's life. Often called a "maniac" on the field, when the summer ends, Spallina hangs up his dirt-stained Long Island Lizards uniform in favor of the more conservative get-up of an elementary-school teacher. It's a slippery slope for a guy who juggles two sometimes competing passions -- playing lacrosse and teaching.
"He totally clicks into a different mentality," Kessenich said. "He plays mean and angry, like he really doesn't like you at all. He steps on the field with an attitude, talking smack the moment he leaves the locker room. He can't be missed with his rock star hair hanging down his jersey and his black socks pulled up to his knees. If you had to create a cartoon character of what your goon defender would look like, Brian's image is what you'd use."
Hong-Chih Kuo, the closer for the Dodgers, probably made a couple of lifelong fans by playing catch with them prior to a recent game.
Have you seen a cool sports-related video that deserves to go viral? Email me tips at email@example.com. Videos should be recent and less than 2 minutes.
Andy Roddick's run at the U.S. Open didn't last as long as Roddick and fans would have expected. But like many athletes these days, his off-court activities are just as exciting as his on-court.
There's his super model wife, Brooklyn Decker. "I got the better half of that one," said Roddick at this year's BNP Paribas Taste of Tennis event in New York City.
There's his guest appearance on Terrell Owen's reality show, The T.O. Show (Season 2, Episode 7, for curious viewers), filmed when Owens visited him at the Miami Masters. Owens laments on the show how he's bummed Roddick can't party with him now that he's settled down. "That was the funny thing when I was watching it," Roddick said. "I'll still go out with him!"
And then there's his Twitter account, Roddick's open forum where his rarely shown wit shines through. So we decided to pick our favorites and ask him about them:
1. Retweet @darrenrovell1 Aug 23, 2010: Why does Tiger Woods' signature all of sudden look like it says "Single Dude"?
Roddick's explanation: "There's really no explanation for that. I just saw it, and I thought it was pretty funny."
We've seen plenty of Pamela Anderson through the years as she's appeared on the big screen in absolute classics like "Barb Wire" and "Scary Movie 3" along with small-screen staples like "Home Improvement" and "Baywatch."
We've literally seen Anderson everywhere -- on covers of magazines, in music videos, in her work for PETA, you name it. But we've never seen her in one place that's probably pretty familiar to sports fans.
On a baseball card.
Now you can scratch that one off the list, though, as the blonde bombshell will be included in the upcoming Donruss Elite Extra Edition baseball card set from Panini America, which arrives on Sept. 29. Why? She's a big supporter of the Pepperdine University baseball program, where she can be found in the stands watching the Malibu, Calif.-based Waves compete.
While Anderson having a baseball card should be a surprise for fans, it was a surprise for those involved with the Pepperdine program, too.
"I was excited to hear about the card," Waves head coach Steve Rodriguez said. "I thought it was a great idea."
Unlike other stars who are dedicated followers of sports programs who will appear on posters or other items to help promote the school, Anderson doesn't have much, if any, Pepperdine memorabilia because she prefers to be low-key in her support, according to Rodriguez.
"Pamela likes to do things without all the publicity," he said. "She is a huge believer in helping out people and functions in her community without the notoriety because she feels that what people should do."
With football season around the corner, one new iPhone app that hit the Apple store last week is aiming directly at NFL fan chatter.
Users have the ability to check in -- the buzzword du jour online right now -- to a specific game from that screen.
Once through to a matchup, TweetQB populates tweets specific to the game via hashtags and known accounts that contribute chatter to those specific teams.
The idea is far from revolutionary, but there's value in its simplicity.
Instead of setting up your own searches via the Web or Twitter client of your choice -- which could become cumbersome and labor intensive -- the work is already done for a user with TweetQB. Just click through on any game, and it all comes to you.
It's no surprise that when you record a song called "Left Y'All in the Dust (NASCAR song)", you'd be asked to perform at a NASCAR race.
So this weekend, upcoming country music star and Georgia-native Colt Ford will perform a concert before Sunday's Emory Healthcare 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Ford adds country music flair to a brimming Labor Day weekend musical lineup that also features Foreigner and Drivin' N Cryin'.
Ford recorded the song "Left Y'All in the Dust" as part of a 6-song CD and DVD called Country Is As Country Does for Wal-Mart. He's touring now to promote his latest CD, "Chicken and Biscuits."
"I love NASCAR and really love performing live in front of NASCAR fans," said Ford, who has performed at tracks in Talladega, Ala., and Bristol, Tenn. "I've been around sports all my life. I just think it's the great thing in the world to be playing music and having the crowds sing along."
Ford is a former pro golfer and also has written a theme song for Professional Bull Riders.
"Things are great right now. It's always good to stay busy," said Ford, who plays three to four shows a week all summer. "NASCAR fans this weekend will be singing along to every word!"
With Bobby Bowden retired and the Florida State Seminoles crushing Samford on Saturday, I thought it'd be appropriate to list my five favorite quotes from Bowden from my website:
5. "You want to know what a real test of faith is? That's when you go to church and reach into your pocket and all you've got is a $20 bill."
4. "They look so good to me. I'm amazed they're not on strike."
-- Bobby Bowden on Florida State losing to the University of Miami during the NFL strike
3. "I know their mother -- she'd give them all my plays."
-- Bowden, on why he doesn't want to play against his sons' teams
2. "He doesn't know the meaning of the word fear. In fact, I just saw his grades and he doesn't know the meaning of a lot of words."
-- Bowden, on one of his players
And my No. 1 favorite quote from Bowden, drum roll please
1. "The Good Lord might not want to take me, but He might be after the pilot."
-- Bowden, on his fear of small planes
In the months since quarterback Jevan Snead last took a snap for the Rebels in the Cotton Bowl and turned his attention to the NFL:
Shaun White says his dream was always to be a professional snowboarder and skateboarder. So it should come as no surprise that after helping with the design of a popular snowboarding game for publisher Ubisoft, his next area of focus for virtual action would be to design his own skateboarding game.
Then again, the surprise might be the design of the game itself. "Shaun White Skateboarding" drops gamers into a story-driven, colorless world in which skateboarding has been banned along with any type of emotion. As you skate, you literally add color to the world while helping shape the environment around you. Hop on a rail and you can actually extend it in any direction for a seemingly endless grind as you go. See an object on a roof, and use the rail to reach it, then morph the rooftop into a ramp and try to make it to an even higher platform. The creation is all performed on the fly and is entirely up to you.
"I still can't believe Ubisoft pays me to make video games," Shaun White told me with a laugh when we met in his suite at the swank Standard Hotel in downtown Los Angeles. "It's bizarre, because I never understood what went on behind the scenes with the programmers and the sections of programmers where this one group just focuses on the colors while this other group works on the physics of the characters and how everything looks. It's amazing to see how much work actually goes into it.
"When I was younger, I was in a video game as a character ['Cool Boarders 4'], but it was awful. My character didn't look anything like me, and it was just lame. I never had something where I was pleased with the outcome. So then it dawned on me that I had no input. I was just like, 'Cool, you put my character in the game and you do the voice for me.' But this time around it has been awesome. My first game with Ubisoft came out around 2008 and we were able to start over. It's my voice, it's my music and this is the stuff I want to see and hear in the game. And the game is amazing. Then we did a special Wii version of the game last time around the Olympics that added some new tricks with the Wii Motion-Plus, and this time around it's awesome because we're skating," White said.
Take cover. Find Denis Leary and the rest of the gang from "Rescue Me." And apologize to U2 on our behalf for stealing "The Unforgettable Fire" as background music for this, our All-Fire Team.
Arthur Brown: The psychedelic rock star of that name is famous for his hit "Fire," which topped the UK charts in 1968 and which was recorded with his band, "The Crazy World of Arthur Brown." Things weren't quite so wacky in the universe of White Sox farmhand Arthur Brown, who hit 19 homers in three seasons of pro ball in the 1950s.
Evers Burns: His name sounds like an eternal flame, but Evers sadly burned out of the NBA after 23 games with the 1993-94 Sacramento Kings. In his defense, there probably weren't many shots available to a rookie on that squad. Five of his teammates Mitch Richmond, Wayman Tisdale, Spud Webb, Olden Polynice and fellow ex-Maryland Terrapin Walt Williams -- scored more than 8,000 NBA points apiece.
Fireman Casey: Hugh Thomas Casey was a fireman when the title didn't exist in baseball. He converted the first of his 55 career saves 30 years before the feat was first recognized as an official statistic. Casey debuted with the Cubs in 1935 and played 14 years in the Majors. The saves were credited retroactively upon examination of box scores, and Casey is one of fewer than 75 pitchers in history with 75 or more wins and 50 or more saves.
While road tripping from Canada to see the Red Sox play in Boston in May, Jason Martell (the reader who sent in this video) stopped with friends to see the Sox' Double A team play a game in Portland, Maine, where they arranged to have their buddy, Dunny, throw out the first pitch. He does a nice impersonation of Paul Byrd with his old-style windup; alas, the pitch skipped about 20 feet short of the plate and goes right to the screen.