Sports Beat

April 18, 2004

There seems to be no doubt that Rebecca Loos had David Beckham's
personal cellphone number. The question is, Did Beckham have
unlimited nights and weekends with his 26-year-old former
personal assisant after he moved to Spain last fall, without his
wife, Victoria, to play for Real Madrid? Loos had the undivided
attention of the English press last week when she released what
she claims are racy phone-text messages the pair exchanged during
an affair she says ended only last month. The tabloids published
several of the messages with much of the alleged juicy stuff
replaced by asterisks. ("Sorry for the delay but just **** so
**** and ****," read one.) Shortly after Loos's story made the
rounds, a 29-year-old model came forward and claimed she, too,
had been involved with Becks. Sarah Marbeck said that after
meeting him at a party in Singapore in 2001, she accepted an
invitation to Beckham's hotel room. She went, she says, wearing
her "just in case" lingerie. She claims to have spent the night
with Beckham, beginning an affair that lasted over a year.
Beckham called Loos's story "ludicrous" and has not commented on
Marbeck's. Last week he and the former Posh Spice frolicked on
the slopes in France. "We've been through a lot worse than this,"
Victoria said.

--New England fans worried about Tom Brady's throwing arm can take
heart: The Patriots' quarterback, who underwent surgery on his
right shoulder in February, received a blessing from Pope John
Paul II last week. Clutching rosary beads--just like his
grandmother does during his games--Brady knelt before the pontiff
while his girlfriend, actress Bridget Moynahan, looked on. Brady
said it was the highlight of his off-season. "It's the most
nervous I've ever been meeting anyone in my life," he said. "I
grew up Catholic, so being able to visit and meet him is an
experience I'll never forget." Brady was back from Vatican City
on Good Friday with several Patriots teammates for Opening Day at
Fenway Park. While he said his shoulder feels better than it has
in two years, Brady didn't have the opportunity to test it. His
boss, Pats owner Bob Kraft, threw out the first pitch for the Red
Sox.

--Now when you go to the Mavericks' website, you can procure
tickets, Travis Best's stats and, perhaps, a soulmate. The Mavs
have recently teamed up with match.com to help single Mavs fans
find each other. "We think a shared passion for basketball and
the Mavs can be a great foundation for a relationship," said Tim
Sullivan, president of Dallas-based match.com. Singles who sign
up before April 19 are eligible to win a date with Icelandic
rookie Jon Stefansson or Mavs dancer Lindsay Shoulders. "It's
just another way for our fans to have fun and for the Mavs to pay
our luxury tax," Dallas owner Mark Cuban says.... All they need
now are Pele and Sylvester Stallone. Freeopera, a team made up
entirely of prisoners--a la Sly's side in the 1981 film
Victory--has been given permission to compete in Italy's amateur
third division. The team is based at the Opera prison on the
outskirts of Milan, and it will enjoy one significant advantage
over its opponents: For security reasons all of Freeopera's games
will be played on their home pitch, a regulation soccer field
within the confines of the 1,400-inmate facility.

COLOR PHOTO: KOJI SASAHARA/AP (PICTURE THIS) PICTURE THIS Since it means taking a bumpy trip down a steep hill on the back of a 12ton log, townspeople in Shimosuwa, Japan, must be happy that the Year of the Tiger and the Monkey only comes once every six years. The Onbashira Matsuri, or "pillar festival," which took place last Friday, is a 1,200-year-old tradition in which young men ride giant firs as a show of courage to the Shinto gods.
COLOR PHOTO: ALBERT DICKSON/TSN/ICON SMI (PACE) $$$ SEVENTY ONE MILLION COLOR PHOTO: PAUL ASHTON/NEWS OF THE WORLD (LOOS) Loos woman

THIS WEEK'S SIGN OF THE APOCALYPSE

Studios in New York, Miami and Hollywood have begun offering yoga
classes for dogs.

THEY SAID IT

JAY ZYGMUNT
Rams president, on the contract demands of tackle Orlando Pace
(left), who asked for a seven-year, $71 million deal: "It's not
an offer, it's a ransom note."

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)