Driving cars? No problem. "But it takes a while to get used to driving nails," says Jeff Gordon. "Once you get your throw down, though, it becomes a lot of fun." Enough fun that the four-time NASCAR champ got a handful of blisters last week when he joined celebs such as Diddy, Steve Carell, Jerome Bettis and Rudy Giuliani to build 45 houses for a Habitat for Humanity project in New York City's Rockefeller Center. The homes were built in sections that were then loaded onto flatbed trucks and driven to hurricane-damaged neighborhoods on the Gulf Coast. Gordon's girlfriend, model Ingrid Vandebosch (above, with Gordon), was so handy with a hammer that the construction workers on hand called her "Ringer."
‚ñ† The Bad News Bears set the bar for misbehaving baseballers, but John Albert has seen worse. The former drummer for the band Bad Religion recently released Wrecking Crew: The Really Bad News Griffith Park Pirates, a book that chronicles the misadventures of his ragtag rec league baseball team. Albert, who played rightfield, says his teammates were "a bunch of people--rockers, Hollywood hopefuls, nobodies--at the end of their ropes for various reasons. Forming a baseball team pulled everyone together." The book is being adapted for a movie, but the author is somewhat wary. "I wouldn't be unhappy if the studio got someone like Sean Penn to play me," Albert says, "but it will more likely be Bob Saget."
‚ñ† Ben Roethlisberger, you've just lost to the Patriots, what are you going to do now? "I'm going to homecoming!" The Steelers' quarterback spent his bye weekend watching his alma mater Findlay (Ohio) High, win its homecoming game last Friday night. On Saturday he played chaperone for his sister, Carlee, and her date to the homecoming dance. Big Ben said he had two things on his mind: "Test the punch and make sure it's not spiked" and "make sure [Carlee's date] doesn't try anything crazy."
‚ñ† Last Thursday several college basketball coaches, including Rick Pitino and John Calipari, roasted former Cincinnati coach Bob Huggins at U.S. Bank Arena to raise money for the Salvation Army and a local community center. "There's so much you can do with Bobby," said Calipari. "It really becomes a matter of 'How much time will they give me?'" ... When Song renamed one of its Boeing 757s at Logan Airport "Big Papi" in his honor last week, Red Sox DH David Ortiz thought he was getting an aeronautic version of MTV's Pimp My Ride. "Dude, you're not gonna believe it; they put TVs on it!" he told SI. Turns out that TVs are standard equipment. "I thought they did it for me," he laughed. "Now I can watch what's happening in sports [while I fly]."
SIGN OF THE APOCALYPSE
First baseman Eduardo Perez missed the Devil Rays' final game because he hurt his knee while posing for the team picture.
They Said It
GUY MORRISS, BAYLOR FOOTBALL COACH, ON TIGHT GAMES:
"Playing close is like showering with your sister. It's no good."