It was a busy week for Cincinnati native Nick Lachey. He wrote an angry column in The Cincinnati Enquirer protesting the firing of basketball coach Bob Huggins. (Sample musing: "The bottom line is, this is ludicrious [sic]! We should be ashamed of ourselves as fans of the Bearcats....") Earlier in the week he took part in a fantasy football draft with Suzy Kolber and Mike Ditka that was televised on ESPN's Monday Night Countdown. (The Bengals fan's first pick: former Cincinnati running back Corey Dillon.) Asked if his wife, Jessica Simpson (left, with Lachey), appreciates his gridiron fantasies, Lachey said, "She just knows to avoid me on football weekends."

■ The MTV Video Music Awards were in Miami last weekend, which meant Shaquille O'Neal had a busy social schedule. "Everyone I know from L.A. calls me, and when they get here I've got to meet and greet 'em," said O'Neal. Among those the Big Aristotle hung with at South Beach's Sagamore Hotel, his designated mingling spot, were Lil' Jon, Fergie of the Black Eyed Peas and Hall of Fame running back Jim Brown. One notable absence was Michael Finley, the free-agent forward the Heat is courting. Shaq invited him, but Finley couldn't make it.

■ If there's a racket in the Cleveland Indians' hotel, chances are it's coming from Ben Broussard's room. "I play guitar almost every night, and I get yelled at all the time," says the first baseman, whose debut CD, Ben Broussard, was set to drop on Tuesday. "[Former teammate] Omar Vizquel always slept next door, and he'd come up the next day and say, 'I really liked that song you played last night. It helped me go to sleep.' I don't know if that's a compliment." Broussard recorded the album of guitar-driven rock in a little over a week and played a few songs for family, friends, teammates and fans at Cleveland's House of Blues on Aug. 19--just hours after he hit a 10th-inning walk-off homer against Baltimore. Says Broussard, "A night really doesn't get any better than that."

■ Baseball fans who would like to see Joe Torre a little more animated are in luck: The preternaturally calm Yankees manager is lending his voice to a feature-length cartoon. Yankee Irving, which is due to hit screens next year, tells the story of a young boy who travels across the country to deliver a bat to Babe Ruth before the 1932 World Series. It also features the voices of Whoopi Goldberg, William H. Macy and Rob Reiner. Torre, who will be playing a manager, says he'll get voice-over advice from friend and Yankees fanatic Billy Crystal.... Last week the Cardinals began raffling off the right to push the button that will implode 39-year-old Busch Stadium. Tickets are $10 and will be on sale until Oct. 12. If you're an Astros fan looking for payback for last year's NLCS, take note: Only residents of Missouri and Illinois are eligible to win.


Picture This

No wonder the U.S.-Mexico border is so difficult to guard: It's 2,000 miles long, and people are willing to get shot across it. Last Saturday, David (the Human Cannonball) Smith was launched from Tijuana to Border Field State Park in San Diego--the fence marks the border--as part of the Insite05 art exhibit. Smith's stunt was organized by Venezuelan artist Javier Tellez, who called the spectacle One Flew over the World.



A New York City gallery is displaying a work the artist says is Ted Williams's death mask.

They Said It: Milton Bradley

Dodgers outfielder, on his legacy: "I want people to say Milton Bradley was a pretty good ballplayer and a pretty good person. Anybody who is going to stand between me getting there, then they need to be eliminated."