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The 10 Spot: Dec. 6, 2004

1. The most astounding number to come out of the Barry Bonds steroid controversy is not that 93 percent of the 40,000-plus voters on a SI.com poll don't believe Bonds' claim that he was unaware he took steroids. The more intriguing number comes from Stats Inc., which reports that Bonds had never hit a home run longer than 450 feet before the 2000 season, when he turned 36. Since then, he's hit at least 21 homers of 450 feet or farther. Where can the 10 Spot sign up for flaxseed oil? That stuff is obviously dynamite.

2. Senator John McCain said if baseball's owners and players' union can't agree on a more stringent drug-testing policy by January, he'll introduce legislation to impose it. The move was widely cheered since unlike baseball, Congress is renowned for getting things done -- and quickly.

3. The bat that Babe Ruth used to hit the first home run in Yankee Stadium was auctioned for $1.26 million. The massive 46-ounce Louisville Slugger is made of rock-solid ash, though Ruth claimed that he thought it was merely balsa.

4. One college football coach split his first-place vote three ways in Sunday's USA Today/ESPN coaches poll, giving 1/3 each to USC, Oklahoma and Auburn. Per its policy, the American Football Coaches' Association would not reveal the coach's name, though it did say he doesn't want the Notre Dame job.

5. University of Colorado officials say the school has been paying football coach Gary Barnett an extra $60,000 a year since 2002 that wasn't in his contract. The extra money was for running a summer youth football camp, even though Barnett's contract already called for him to receive $140,00 a year for the camp. Some in the Colorado program have suggested that Barnett can justify the extra payment by writing an annual essay titled What I Did On My Summer Vacation.

6. The Bobcats are rumored to be close to acquiring Lakers guard Kareem Rush for a future second-round draft pick. Rush is currently playing in the NBA's version of the witness protection program, otherwise known as Kobe Bryant's backup.

7. The Magic will be the first team to hold a nutcracker night with their plan to offer 5,000 Cuttino Mobley nutcrackers on Dec. 22. Unfortunately for the Pacers, the season-long suspension of Ron Artest has scuttled plans for an Artest headcracker giveaway.

8. Evidently not all publicity is good publicity. Despite Artest being in the news as much as Ronald Reagan ever was, the CD by R&B girl group Allure that Artest has been promoting sold just 800 copies through last week. By contrast, U2 has moved 840,000 units of How To Dismantle an Atomic Bomb despite a shocking lack of brawls involving the band.

9. The Apprentice update: The gig is finally up for Ivana and her bizarre fixation on Jen. Ivana was canned on Thursday's show after she dropped her skirt and flashed her bikini shorts in an effort to sell a candy bar for $20. Even so, Ivana's Apex team was swamped by Jen and Sandy, who wore matching red tops and denim skirts to sell the candy for $5 each. The outfits weren't all that provocative but somehow outraged Ivana. She called Jen and Sandy "hookers" and "strippers," adding "And when I say strippers, I mean in a cheap bar dive in Texas with peanut shells on the floor." Putting aside Ivana's apparent familiarity with low-rent Texas strip joints, it's ironic that The Donald canned her by saying, "I'm not hiring a stripper." In the boardroom, Ivana lashed out at Jen, even though Jen, as a member of the winning team, wasn't there and could not be fired. Let's just hope that Ivana can somehow get over her Jen envy and move on with her life.

10. NHL lockout update: The union and NHL finally are expected to sit down this week to discuss the players' new proposal for a collective bargaining agreement. The proposal isn't thought to include a salary cap but rather a stiff luxury tax for payrolls above $38 million. The NHL is said to be preparing its counteroffer before the union's offer has even been presented and almost certainly rejected. Still, having reached Day 82 of the lockout Monday, it's nice that the two sides are going to give the impression of actual negotiations.

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