1. MLB players and owners have agreed on a tougher steroid-testing program that will be announced Thursday. Reports indicate first-time offenders will face a potential suspension. Under the old plan, players who failed a first test had to write, "I will not take steroids" 25 times on a blackboard.
2. US Airways employees in Pittsburgh received a memo this week that spelled out what airport workers can and can't do leading up to Saturday's Jets-Steelers game. Workers can wear "conservative" pins or ties supporting the Steelers, but are instructed not to paint themselves black or gold or wear a Ben Roethlisberger jersey over their uniform. The airline will leave potential mock-mooning to an employee's discretion.
3. Vikings owner Red McCombs has asked Fox Sports to remove announcer Joe Buck from the booth for Sunday's Eagles-Vikings game, claiming that Buck's strong condemnation of Randy Moss' end-zone antics "suggested a prejudice that surpasses objective reporting." Fox insists that Buck will remain on the telecast, turning down flat McCombs' suggestion that Buck be replaced by the more understanding Leon.
4. Orioles pitcher Sidney Ponson, tired of being a celebrity in his native Aruba, said he would no longer make his offseason home in the tourist destination. Ponson recently spent a week in an Aruban jail while police investigated allegations that he punched a judge in a beach fight on Christmas Day. From now on, Ponson will winter in Gary, Ind.
5. Boxing promoter Don King has filed a defamation suit against ESPN and seeks $2.5 billion in damages. The suit alleges that an ESPN SportsCentury segment that aired last May accused King of being "a snake oil salesman, a shameless huckster and worse." Instead, King demands that ESPN hereafter refer to him as the Matador, for his ability to lure young boxers into the ring to cut each other down.
6. Randy Johnson could take a lesson from disgraced Chicago businessman James Duff in how to politely deal with TV cameramen . Duff pleaded guilty on Monday to 33 counts including racketeering and fraud in admitting that he won city contracts by falsely portraying his companies as being women- and minority-controlled. When Duff left the courthouse, he deflected questions from reporters by pretending to be asked about the Cubs. Duff's lone statement was, "I hope the Cubs win." Duff did not, however, give his opinion on whether to trade Sammy Sosa. Thanks to 10 Spot reader Suzanne of Chicago for the tip.
7. NHL lockout update: Hurricanes owner Peter Karmanos, a member of the owners' bargaining committee (presuming one actually exists), said Tuesday that his "gut feeling is that this season's gone." Still, another story shows that even with the NHL gone, hockey fever is alive and well in Canada. Police in Quebec announced Wednesday they had found the missing red No. 9 Team Canada jersey that 17-year-old Sidney Crosby, the latest "next Gretzky," wore during Canada's 6-1 gold-medal win over Russia in last week's world junior championships. Police have charged a 48-year-old from Laval, Quebec, with the theft. The thief may have been guilt-struck by the national outcry for the missing sweater, since it was found by a Canada Post mailman in a Quebec mailbox attached to a newspaper clipping about the theft that helpfully included a phone number for Hockey Canada. Arrangements were promptly made to return the jersey to Crosby. Still undetermined, of course, is when Crosby might actually don an NHL sweater.
8. SI Swimsuit Model Search update: Yes, it was only a matter of time until SI jumped into the reality TV game. This show is essentially American Idol for models, with a spot in the SI Swimsuit issue and a $1 million modeling contract from Next Model Management as the prizes. The role of Simon is played by judge Joel Wilkenfeld, the president of Next. He says mean things like, "Your ass is a little bit sagging," "I'm not sure about your face," and "The hair makes you look a bit cheap, and the clothes don't help either." Fortunately, Joel couldn't see through the TV to criticize the 10 Spot's gym-shorts-and-undershirt combo. After Wednesday's second episode, six of the 12 contestants have been eliminated. Our picks are Jenna and Shannon, two models from the Lone Star State. Of course, all the 10 Spot knows about models is that they don't return our calls, so take our selections for what little they're worth.
9. Here's a great story about a man who could only be Ali G who shocked rodeo fans Friday night in Salem, Va., by singing a bizarre version of the national anthem. Our favorite quote is from one witness who said, "If he had been out there a minute longer, I think somebody would have shot him."
10. Reader submission: First, thanks for all the entries, especially to Aram of Windsor, Ontario, for inspiring the Don King-ESPN punch line above. It was a close race, but my favorite was from Kevin of St. James, N.Y.: "When Randy Johnson was introduced at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday, he apologized for his run-in with a CBS cameraman the day before. Johnson said that he was not used to reporters 'jumping out of the bushes.' Other things he will have to get used to in the big city include horseless carriages, talkies and them flyin' machines." Kevin, you're hired! Honorable mentions goes to Marty of Courtenay, British Columbia; Scott from Dallas; and Steve of Calgary.