The Beat

February 07, 2005

Mike Piazza is gay, and he doesn't care who knows it. No, not the Mets' catcher--he married former Baywatch babe and Playmate Alicia Rickter (left) in Florida last Saturday. But the 11-time All-Star's nuptials prompted the Reverend Mike Piazza, the leader of the Dallas-based nondenominational Cathedral of Hope, the world's largest gay and lesbian church, to speak out in favor of same-sex marriages. "I want to congratulate the New York--based Mike Piazza on his marriage to his model girlfriend," Rev. Piazza (inset) said in a statement. "But I also want to ask why a baseball player can get married in this country but a [gay] preacher can't." The ballplayer looked dashing at his wedding, wearing a charcoal suit and a silver tie. After the ceremony at St. Jude's Catholic Church, the 120 guests, including Tigers catcher Ivan Rodriguez (but no current Mets teammates), enjoyed a reception at the Vanderbilt Mansion on Fisher Island off the coast of Miami.

•Piazza wasn't the only athlete to get hitched last week. Arnold Palmer married Kathleen Gawthrop on Wednesday on Oahu's North Shore. "I feel like a 25-year old," said the 75-year-old Palmer. The couple, who dated for three years, have five children and 12 grandchildren between them. (Palmer lost his wife of 45 years, Winnie, to cancer in 1999.) Arnie was in Hawaii for the Champions Tour's Turtle Bay Championship, which started last Friday. He struggled, but the four-time Masters champ was still buoyant after finishing the first round in last place, at 10 over par. "Even shooting an 82 doesn't bother me a darn bit," said Palmer.

•You'd think the NBA would be doing all it could to keep Steve Nash's hairdo out of sight, but the league has forbidden players from wearing hats during interviews. "As we evaluated how we as a league presented ourselves to the media, absolutely one of the things that sets us apart is that fans can see the faces and expressions of our players," said NBA VP Stu Jackson. Kings guard Cuttino Mobley received a warning last week when he wore a skullcap during an interview. His defense? "It was a bad hair day," said Mobley.... Yet another tough postseason loss had Peyton Manning wishing he were someone else. The Colts' QB spent last week lying low with his wife, Ashley, in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, where, according to the New York Post, he told the wait staff, "This week I am known as Javier Lopez."

THIS WEEK'S SIGN OF THE APOCALYPSE

An Oklahoma state senator wants to legalize a form of cockfighting in which the birds wear tiny boxing gloves.

"They Said It"

MARIA SHARAPOVA

Russian tennis star--and woman of a certain age

•ON HER LOSS IN THE AUSTRALIAN OPEN: "There's nothing negative: I'm 17 years old and I've made it to the semifinals."--Jan. 27, 2005

•ON WINNING WIMBLEDON LAST SUMMER: "I'm only 17 and didn't expect to be able to play two weeks in a row at the same level."--Jan. 16, 2005

•ON HANDLING EXPECTATIONS IN 2005: "I don't think that people really understand that I am only 17."--Jan. 15, 2005

•ON HER PHYSICAL DEVELOPMENT: "I'm only 17, so I'm trying to get better even [at] the things I'm good at."--Dec. 18, 2004

•ON HER GAME: "There's a lot of things I have to work on. I'm only 17 and I have a lot of years ahead of me."--Sept. 25, 2004

•ON A LOSS TO RIVAL ANASTASIA MYSKINA: "I'm only 17. When I get to her age, I'll be a lot more experienced player."--July 30, 2004

•ON HER NERVES ON THE EVE OF THE 2004 WIMBLEDON FINAL: "I'm only 17, so how can I be nervous?"--July 5, 2004

•ON WHETHER SHE'D LIKE TO ACT, LIKE SERENA WILLIAMS: "I'm very young--I'm only 17--and right now I just want to be a professional tennis player."--May 10, 2004

COLOR PHOTOASSOCIACAO DESPORTIVA/AP (JEAN CARLOS) PICTURE THIS Good news for those who think kids aren't active enough. Last week a Brazilian youth soccer club revealed that several pro teams (one is Manchester United) are scouting Jean Carlos Chera (left), a nine-year-old wunderkind. Jean Carlos weighs 77 pounds--an easy bench press for child bodybuilder Richard Sandrak (right). Audiences will meet the 12-year-old in the upcoming documentary The World's Strongest Boy. COLOR PHOTONEAL PRESTON (RICHARD) PICTURE THIS Good news for those who think kids aren't active enough. Last week a Brazilian youth soccer club revealed that several pro teams (one is Manchester United) are scouting Jean Carlos Chera (left), a nine-year-old wunderkind. Jean Carlos weighs 77 pounds--an easy bench press for child bodybuilder Richard Sandrak (right). Audiences will meet the 12-year-old in the upcoming documentary The World's Strongest Boy.
COLOR PHOTOCOREY SIPKIN/NEW YORK DAILY NEWS (PIAZZA AND RICKTER) COLOR PHOTO© JOHN KLAUNIG PHOTOGRAPHY (REV. PIAZZA) COLOR PHOTODAVID CALLOW (SHARAPOVA)

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)