Which is thetougher work environment, Philadelphia's Citizens Bank Park or the slightlymuggier confines of the Amazon jungle? Phillies wunderkind Cole Hamels can findout: The rookie lefthander, 22, is dating former Survivor: Amazon contestantand Playboy cover girl Heidi Strobel (below). (Survivor-philes might recallthat Strobel, who finished fifth, dropped her shorts in exchange for cookiesand a jar of peanut butter.) The couple met two years ago while Hamels was withthe Phillies' minor league affiliate in Clearwater, Fla. Now they findthemselves bonding over the trials of celebrityhood. "She's gone throughthe hectic lifestyle," Hamels told The Philadelphia Inquirer. "That isthe biggest help possible for me."
• American Idolwinner Taylor Hicks's cheering section was known as the Soul Patrol, but he'sbeen cultivating a fan base since his days as a Little Leaguer. Before lastweek's Idol finale Hicks's father, Brad, told The Birmingham News, "I thinkTaylor wants us here to watch him, just like when he was eight or nine and hada [baseball] game." Hicks, 29, also starred on Hoover (Ala.) High'sbasketball team, helping the Buccaneers to the second round of the 1995 statesectionals as a senior. Last month Hoover mayor Tony Petelos presented him witha retro hicks number 20 Bucs jersey.
• A tip forYankees fans seeking revenge on Curt Schilling, who helped take down the BronxBombers in the 2001 World Series and the '04 ALCS: The Red Sox righthander istaking on all comers online. During next week's New York--Boston series atYankee Stadium, fans can battle a character based on Schilling--it will looklike him and is named after him--in the role-playing video game EverQuest II,which takes place in a fantasy world of magic and mythology(www.battleals.com). Every time the cyber-Schilling is defeated, EverQuestdeveloper Sony will donate $5 to the ALS Association, a charity devoted to thefight against Lou Gehrig's disease. First up for Schilling: his son Gehrig, whosays, "I think I'll kill him if I do it right."
• As if theKnicks need another drama queen. Point guard Nate Robinson, who won the NBASlam Dunk contest in February, is spending the summer in his hometown ofSeattle training for his second season and finishing the theater major hestarted three years ago at the University of Washington. Robinson plans to takeclasses this summer and hopes to earn his degree within two years. Then, hesays, "I just want to be in one movie." He has already lobbied Knickssuperfan Spike Lee for a role. "I keep a little bug in Spike's ear,"Robinson says. "He says he'll squeeze me in one of these days." ...Finally, a rendition of Take Me Out to the Ballgame that sounds more roboticthan what Ozzy Osbourne warbled at Wrigley Field in 2003. Peter Frampton, withthe help of his trademark talkbox-guitar effect, performed the ditty live in2003, at a Reds game, and now a version is available on Cincinnati Clutch Hits,a collection of Reds-themed tunes recorded by Cincinnati musicians.
Helmet? Check. Gloves? Check. Goggles? Check. Bike?Uh-oh. Lukas Pesek of the Czech Republic was missing one vital piece ofequipment during a 125-cc motorcycle race in Le Mans on May 21: his 125-ccmotorcycle. He had it when the French Grand Prix began but lost it during anasty spill on the first lap. He walked away uninjured. Defending serieschampion Thomas Luthi of Switzerland was the race's winner.
SIGN OF THE APOCALYPSE
Televangelist Pat Robertson, 76, claims he recentlyleg-pressed one ton--twice what most elite athletes can press--thanks to aprotein shake containing flaxseed oil.
They Said It
PEPE REINA, Spanish national team goalkeeper, onjoining the team a week after getting married:
"Now I'm going to have to spend my honeymoon with22 other blokes."