By Pete Mcentegart
May 10, 2005

1. The Topps baseball card of the late Pope John Paul II is the hottest new thing in sports collectibles. John Paul, of course, ranks among the career leaders in saved souls.

2. This season home runs are down 8.8 percent the first five weeks compared to the same span last year and at the lowest level since 2002. Some baseball officials cited cool weather as the reason rather than the crackdown on steroids. In related news, Bud Selig was called to testify in a Congressional hearing on how baseball has stopped global warming.

3. Germany has long been a world power in soccer, and apparently the same is true for robot soccer. The reigning European champs from Dortmund University in Germany defeated a team from the University of Texas 2-0 on Monday at the 2005 RoboCup U.S. Open at the Georgia Institute of Technology. The UT squad was a late replacement for a Cal-Berkeley team that was outmaneuvered by clever politicking from the Longhorns coach. (Oops, that was the Rose Bowl.) It seems that the four-robot German team had its way with the less-experienced Americans, though no word if the refs missed a key German handball like at the 2002 World Cup. The championship will be held on Tuesday.

4. Life imitating art: The actor who plays self-centered athlete Leon in the Anheuser-Busch commercials has been signed as a pitcher by the Schaumburg Flyers of the independent Northern League. Nigel Thatch once pitched at the University of Florida. The Flyers have made it clear that they won't stand for any Leon-like antics, unless, of course, it helps attendance.

5. Former NBA star Dennis Rodman has signed a deal to write his third autobiography, tentatively titled The Worm Returns. That's great news, because there were so many unanswered questions after his first two books.

6. While several 10 Spot readers wrote to say who they had picked longshot Giacomo in the Kentucky Derby, none of them were as lucky last weekend as Phoenix firefighter Chris Hertzog. The 39-year-old made 100 $1 bets -- 50 trifectas and 50 superfectas -- on Saturday at Phoenix's Turf Paradise, all on computer-generated quick picks. But Hertzog thought all the tickets were losers, left them on a table and walked off. When the mutual clerk who sold the ticket was informed that her machine had generated a superfecta winner worth $864,253.50, the track owner found Hertzog to tell him the good news. The news turned bad when Hertzog and a friend couldn't find the winning ticket after a thorough search of trash cans. But the clerk, Brenda Reagan, found the ticket the next day lying on the floor next to her machine. This might be the textbook definition of found money. We have three words for Hertzog: Let it ride!

7. Joe Namath lobbied New York lawmakers on Monday in support of the Jets' plan to build a new stadium in Manhattan. Namath completed his day as a politician by smooching several young women before he was instructed that he was supposed to only be kissing babies.

8. Who says that P.E. classes have faded in importance in American schools? Not Isabel Gottlieb, a senior at Bow High School in New Hampshire who won't be receiving her diploma because she refuses to drop AP Biology for a required P.E. class. Finally, a school that has its priorities. Why should anybody waste time with biology when they could be choosing up sides for dodgeball?

9. Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy backed off his comments of last week, reportedly telling the NBA that he did not, in fact, have a conversation with a referee friend who told him that the league was targeting Houston center Yao Ming. The coach, who was fined $100,000 for those comments, was so eager to avoid further NBA penalties that he also denied that he's ever spoken to Heat coach Stan Van Gundy.

10. Reggie Fowler, who told several fibs about his background, has been replaced as the general partner of the investment group bidding on the Vikings by real estate executive Zygmunt Wilf. Fowler says he will instead be a limited partner as well as the replacement for Randy Moss.

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