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Yankees reaping whirlwind

Gotta say the new Yankee Stadium sure is a happenin' place. You had your gang gunplay in front of the courthouse down the street on Opening Day. Extra Mustard proprietor Jimmy Traina recently encountered a raging brushfire right outside the ballpark. Then there are all those "affordable" empty field level seats everyone keeps talking about, not to mention the flocks of home runs soaring over the rightfield fence.

With all the positive, ahem, publicity, koff, the place is generating, the Yankees are planning a price hike on their "premium" perches for next season. Those are the seats that no one but Bud Selig can afford. Definitely one of the brassier moves in this already mind-melting age of corporate greed and shenanigans. To further enhance your enjoyment of paying through both nostrils for an outing in the Bronx, there is also a $5 fee to park your bags (computer, diaper, grocery, body, whatever) at a bowling alley across the street because satchels and such are not allowed inside the Yanks' gleaming new wind tunnel.

This space assumes that anti-terror ordinances have something to do with the bag-check scam, um, requirement -- though few things are as terrifying as the thought of paying $2,600 for a ticket to a tilt vs. Kansas City.

Meanwhile, all them flying taters drew the interest of the good folks at AccuWeather.com. A team of crack meteorologists factored in everything from the slope and angle of the seats and decks to the slightly southward direction that the more-open stadium faces. They came to the conclusion that air currents likely are helping horsehide take flight. As one team employee on the 400 level recently told the New York Daily News, "It's like a tornado up there. I was waiting for the Wicked Witch to come by on her bike."

One Oz-like factor left out of the study is the absence of wind generated by the Steinbrenners, which used to fill the old park. Boss George is no longer the hurricane of daily bombast he was in his heyday, and blustery son Hank has been noticeably quiet this season -- so far. But if the team struggles into June, you can bet your Melky Cabrera weathervane that the wind in the Bronx will really pick up.

You just knew that the Detroit Lions' unveiling of their new, fiercer logo would inspire artistically-inclined folks to have some fun with it.

Speaking of sadsack teams, maybe you saw or read that Mike Rizzo, the acting GM of the Washington Nationals, referred to third baseman Ryan Zimmerman as "the face of the franchise" upon signing him to a five-year extension worth $45 million. That's a somewhat dubious honor, son. Young Zimmerman might want to slip on a paper bag whenever he goes out in public rather than have his mug associated with a .445 winning percentage since 1999. To this space's addled way of thinking, the face of the Nationals is more akin to the photo on the right, part of a short column of others that come to mind.

With baseball season, the NBA and NHL playoffs, and especially the NFL Draft upon us, psychics are out in force predicting the outcome of basically everything that transpires -- even if they have to issue countless versions (known in psychic parlance as "mock drafts" for the wind that blows in from the Great Beyond).

It's completely understandable if you sit and wonder how the Mel Kipers of the world do it. In an attempt to plug into the pundits' metaphysical switchboard, this space's colleague Gennaro Filice forked over some clams two years ago to a soothsayer at Manhattan's Honey Bee Readings. Gennaro's $50 basically got him such pronouncements asAkinori Iwamura is a future Hall of Famer and you won't forget Chris Young's 2007 season.

Now comes the really good news that you no longer have to sit on the sidelines while the trained professionals have all the fun. Los Angeles psychic Tori Hartman is peddling scented Intention Candle Kits that supposedly give you all the "power, energy and focus" you need to make accurate predictions like these sent in by reader Eddie in Toronto via the handy Epistle Portal below.

Talk about the sweet smell of success! SI.com's own Allan Muir clearly had all candles burning when he declared last October that the freshly-hired Barry Melrose would get the can in Tampa Bay.

While a boon for psychics, this time of year is anathema to the American Mustache Institute, which frowns upon beards as unworthy competitors for the status of Ultimate Symbol of True Manliness. But NHL players are rapidly turning into facial hair farmers as per the grand postseason traditon and their partisans are gladly getting in on the Beard-a-Thon. During the playoffs, fans of the Penguins, Hurricanes, Bruins, Capitals, Flyers, Sharks, Rangers, Blackhawks and Red Wings can pledge to grow beards and fork over some coin on their respective team's websites. Fans are encouraged to get everyone from their best friend Ned to their Aunt Myrtle to do likewise, although Myrtle may opt to build a virtual beard instead. So far, the combined effort has generated more than $100,000 for team charities. Not good form for the mustache folks to sniff at that.

So sang The Beatles, and boy were they right. Just as sports has its endless procession of drug-enhanced frauds, so it seems that even the most heartwarming stories from the world of entertainment are trainted. Bookmakers are now laying 1-3 odds that dowdy singing sensation Susan Boyle will win the top prize in Britain's Got Talent, but the New York Post's Maureen Callahansmells a hoax perpetrated by that wily archvillain Simon Cowell.

Indeed, Boyle seems too good to be true, and her backstory isn't quite so quaint. John Tobin of the Coop & Tobin morning radio show on WPDH-FM out of bucolic Poughkeepsie, NY believes that Boyle looks suspiciously like a love child produced by Janet Reno and Bill Parcells.Now, what are the odds on that?

This space hears raspy whispers that the Yankees have found a solution to their empty seats embarrassment: They'll be filling them with inflatable dummies. "Not enough dummies are in there now," says our source. "Obviously."

It seems the Yanks haven't cornered the local market on public grumbling. One big beef concerns the acute absence of Mets history, heritage and ambience at their spankin' new Bailout Park, er, Citi Field. The place is basically a shrine to the Brooklyn Dodgers and therefore meaningful only to people who are approaching their 100th birthday.

Recently there was a stink about the Mets' plans to scrub an autograph that former ace Dwight Gooden scrawled on the wall at the ballpark's Ebbets Club bar on Opening Day. Our crusted "source" -- a wily geezer who used to bend elbows with Brooklyn Dodgers great Zack Wheat way back when -- says the Mets are "under orders from their puppet-masters in Los Angeles" to have beloved Bums hurler Carl Erskine (pronounced"Oyskin" in Brooklyn) sign the wall once Gooden's signature is removed. And, our sauce insists, the retired numbers on the leftfield wall -- 37, 14, 41, 42 -- really stand for old Bums Ed Roebuck, Frank Skaff, Clem Labine and Jackie Robinson.

Yes, it's the humble gift that keeps on giving. It's right there on your right (our left, as we stand behind every installment of Getting Loose). Merely take the contents of your cranium, bread lightly, shake, add a dash of jalapeno and stuff into the handy space-time portal. Then click Send. Somewhere in the world, an orphan will become dewy-eyed with gratitude at your generous offering.

Don't believe it?

Well, Mr. (or Mrs.) Cynic, just check out this fine merchandise that arrived courtesy of reader Chris from Woodbridge, NJ. A few more initiatives like this and we'll eliminate hunger while achieving world peace in our lifetime.

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