Push Up or Shut Up

Making good on a political wager isn't easy
January 26, 2009

SAN DIEGO mayor Jerry Sanders has been a gamblin' man this month. After the Chargers beat the Colts in the wild-card playoffs, he collected an order of shrimp cocktail from Indianapolis mayor Greg Ballard. And last Friday, after the Chargers' divisional-round loss to the Steelers, Sanders paid off Pittsburgh mayor Luke Ravenstahl by posing in a polar exhibit at SeaWorld in a Steelers jersey. "It was 20 degrees in the Penguin Encounter, a lot like Pittsburgh," Sanders said. "When I walked outside, it was a perfect San Diego day.... In San Diego, even when we lose, we win." Not every political sports wager has worked out so well.

Jan. 14
Following the Gators' win over the Sooners in the BCS title game, Oklahoma senator Tom Coburn honors a bet with Florida senator Bill Nelson (below) and sings Elton John's Rocket Man in front of staffers and TV cameras. (Nelson, who would have had to sing Oklahoma! if he lost, chose the song because he flew on the space shuttle in 1986.) Coburn's daughter Sarah is an acclaimed opera singer but, judging by Coburn's trouble with some high notes, the talent is not inherited. "Elton John is a little tough," he said.

December 2008
Before the Emerald Bowl, Miami mayor Manny Diaz promises San Francisco's Gavin Newsom several bags of Florida oranges if the Hurricanes lose to Cal. The Bears win, but Newsom is denied his jolt of vitamin C: It's illegal to ship Florida oranges to California (to keep a citrus canker that often attacks Sunshine State crops from spreading west). Diaz pays with stone crab claws instead. "We assumed they knew what regulations their state had," his spokesperson said. "And we expected to win anyway."

June 2008
Before the Celtics-Lakers NBA Finals, L.A. mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, whose town is short an NFL franchise, makes an odd proposal to Boston mayor Tom Menino: Boston gets the Arena Football League's L.A. Avengers if the Celtics win, L.A. gets the Patriots if the Lakers triumph. The idea is a nonstarter for Menino, who counterproposes that L.A. just give Boston the Staples Center. Says Hizzoner, "We could use the extra space for all of our banners."

January 2007
Florida drubs Ohio State for the BCS title. The 41--14 final is bad news for Ohio senator Sherrod Brown, who had a wager with Sen. Nelson—him again—that the loser would do a pushup for every point scored. On the floor of Nelson's office Brown (top) knocks out the first 30, rests, then struggles through 13 more before stopping. A gracious Nelson gets down and finishes the set for him.

Playing the Name Game

PITTSBURGH MAYOR Luke Ravenstahl's dedication to the Steelers extends beyond wagering on their games. Last week, before Pittsburgh's AFC championship showdown with Baltimore, he filed papers to temporarily remove "Raven" from his name. For Sunday's game he was Luke Steelerstahl. The NFC title game between Arizona and Philadelphia didn't inspire any name changes, but maybe it should have. Phil, the first name of Phoenix's Mayor Gordon, sounds an awful lot like Philly. He blew the chance to show his loyalty by changing his first name to Ari. And would it have been asking too much of Cardinal Justin Rigali of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia to celebrate just one mass as Eagle Justin Rigali?

Go Figure

$25,000
Amount Mavericks owner Mark Cuban was fined for what the NBA called "improper interactions with Denver Nuggets players" during and after a Jan. 13 game.

14
Times Cuban has been fined by the league; he has been docked about $1.5 million.

23
Three-pointers (in 37 attempts) made by the Magic in its 139--107 win over the Kings on Jan. 13, an NBA record.

21
The old record for three-pointers by one team in a game, set by the Raptors in 2005.

64
Lance Armstrong's finish in his return to competitive cycling, a 30-mile ride in Adelaide, Australia; Armstrong held back on Astana team orders to avoid the possibility of crashing before this week's Tour Down Under in Australia.

133
Riders in the field.

138,000
Approximate number of fans who turned out to see Armstrong's return.

$536
Average cost of a Bengals private seat license (the agreements can be resold), according to SeasonTicketRight.com.

$2,783
Average cost of a Bengals PSL two years ago.

PHOTOYOUTUBE.COM (PUSHUPS) PHOTOMARTIN HARVEY/DIGITAL VISION/GETTY IMAGES (ORANGES) PHOTOJUSTIN MERRIMAN/PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW (STEELERSTAHL) PHOTOLAWRENCE JACKSON/AP (COBURN) PHOTOCOURTESY BOB COUEY/SEAWORLD SAN DIEGO (SANDERS)NOT-SO-HAPPY FEET Bet loser Sanders had to don Steelers black and gold.

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)