The 10 Spot: Dec. 1, 2004
1. Seahawks running back Shaun Alexander signed copies of his new children's book, Alexander The Great, at two Seattle-area locations on Tuesday. Unfortunately, the kids were put off by the book's portrayal of Alexander as a bisexual blond with dreams of world domination.
2. The Mets jumped into the Pedro Martinez sweepstakes by offering the free agent a guaranteed $37.5 million for three seasons. Martinez is believed to be strongly considering the Mets so he can be close to his family, especially his daddy in the Bronx.
3. The Red Sox only voted former shortstop Nomar Garciaparra a three-quarter share of their World Series winnings, not a full share ($223,620) as previously reported. Fortunately for Nomar, he received a quarter-share of the gold medal won by the U.S. women's Olympic soccer team.
4. Well, it's official: Paris Hilton is more popular than anybody in sports. That's according to Staples' online charity auction of staplers that have been autographed by some of the biggest names in entertainment and sports. [www.staples.com/auction] At press time, the professional dilettante's stapler was going for $1,005, the highest offer so far. (Bidding goes through Dec. 6.) Donald Trump and Katie Couric are tied for second at $800. Of the 47 names in the sports category, Tiger Woods is first with a bid of $655. It seems the nation's fascination with the Lakers might be fading, though, given that the two lowest bids among sports figures are for VP of business operations Jeanie Buss and GM Mitch Kupchak. They have managed to fetch bids of just $40.
5. Tuesday was a tough day for football coaches. Notre Dame fired Tyrone Willingham after three seasons, while the Browns let Butch Davis go in his fourth year. Here's betting, though, that both men get a new job before the NHL plays a game.
6. An interesting postscript to the Bucs waiving kicker Martin Gramatica on Tuesday is that it highlights the only raging kicker-punter feud in the NFL. Gramatica missed three kicks on Sunday against the Panthers, who employ Gramatica's nemesis, punter Todd Sauerbrun. As SI reported in its Nov. 29 issue, the dispute stems to 2002, when Sauerbrun criticized Gramatica for his exuberant celebration of a field goal and the youngest Gramatica, South Florida kicker Santiago, taunted Sauerbrun outside the Panthers' locker room. After another '02 game Martin had to be restrained from attacking Sauerbrun. Two weeks ago the Panthers considered signing another Gramatica kicker, Bill, but Sauerbrun (who is also the team's holder) advised against it. Carolina signed Jeff Chandler instead. Still, the 10 Spot would advise Martin that he shouldn't work off his anger by attacking Sauerbrun unless his brothers are nearby. Martin is generously listed at 5-8 and 170 pounds, while Sauerbrun, a former All-America lacrosse player in high school, is 5-10 and a solid 215.
7. Mavericks owner Mark Cuban wrote on his blog that he has decided to start a new hedge fund that will solely make sports wagers, not invest in stocks or bonds. Still, thanks to The Benefactor, nobody can say this is Cuban's worst idea ever.
8. The new Bud Light commercials that mock Miller Lite's successful campaign using football officials has come under fire from something called the Center for Science in the Public Interest's Alcohol Policies Project. The program's director wrote a letter on Monday to the Beer Institute (yes, it really exists) claiming that the spots violate beer-industry guidelines against portraying or implying illegal activity. That's because in the commercials, men pretending to be Miller Lite "referees" make off with Bud Lights. An Anheuser-Busch spokesman said that "to suggest that it implies or condones illegal behavior is ridiculous." No, it merely implies that A-B is fresh out of advertising ideas.
9. Sirius Satellite Radio has signed a three-year contract to broadcast every NCAA men's basketball tournament game through 2007. The deal is considered a coup for Sirius because it's nearly impossible to find March Madness on TV.
10. Jeopardy! update: The King is dead. Long live the King. Ken Jennings' 74-show win streak finally came to an end on Tuesday's episode, with realtor Nancy Zerg playing the Ken Keltner role. (Keltner, of course, was the Indians third baseman who made two terrific defensive plays to help end Joe DiMaggio's 56-game hitting streak.) Ken was hurt by missing both daily doubles in the double jeopardy round, dropping a total of $10,200 that would have made the game another runaway. As it turned out, though, he would have needed to hit both to slam the door before final jeopardy. Instead, Ken entered the last answer with $14,400 to $10,000 for Nancy. (Category: Business and Industry. A: Most of this firm's 70,000 seasonal white-collar employees work only four months a year.) Nancy correctly responded, "What is H&R Block?" to move to $14,401. Ken admirably kept a poker face before his question was revealed, but when "What is FedEx?" appeared on the screen, his reign was over. Ken finished with $2,520,700 and received a (mostly) standing ovation from a disappointingly sparse and poorly dressed studio audience. As usual, Ken would have benefited from knowing more about sports, since all three contestants avoided the "Pro Sports Arena" category in double jeopardy. Nobody answered the three clues that were read before time expired. But let's savor some final stats: Ken's average haul was an impressive $34,063.51, and he provided more than 2,700 correct questions. Coming up next is the Ken Jennings media blitz, such as Tuesday night's appearance on Letterman, in which Jennings was cruelly introduced to Weird Al Yankovic's I Lost on Jeopardy. Finally, the 10 Spot is accepting ideas as to how to fill the 10th item going forward.