Your morning roundup for May 26, the day after Disney realized that it probably wasn't the best of ideas to trademark American heroes for profit.
What we watched: Wilson Valdez, backup second baseman to Chase Utley, went 3-for-6 in last night's 5-4 win over the Cincinnati Reds. As for his other numbers when he took the mound in the 19th inning to become the first position player to register a win since 2000, he hit Scott Rolen with a pitch (good stuff) and needed just nine more pitches to close out a game Roy Halladay started six hours and 11 minutes earlier.
Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard put his mitt over his face to hide his smile when Valdez shook off his catcher.
"I was like, 'What is he going to throw? What does he have?' " Howard said. "It was funny, but he got it done."
Both teams scored a run in the 10th inning. A 1-for-8 Raul Ibanez closed it out with a sac fly at 1:19 a.m. Here's Valdez's post-game money quote:
"They asked me if I could pitch. I said, 'Yeah, why not?' ... I was trying to throw a strike. That's the only thing."
What we're watching: It was only a matter of time before someone illustrated the NCAA as an organization that, fueled by Sarah "Famous For Two Months" McLachlan pity pleas, engages crack babies in athletic competition for the profit of everybody but the crack babies. This is what South Park did last night.
Kyle: "I got a job, Stan. I'm making tons of money with some really cool stuff."
Stan: "Doing what?"
Kyle: "Crackbaby Basketball."
Kyle: "No, no, it's not how it sounds. Check it out. See, we just videotape the babies fighting over a ball full of crack. It's really getting popular! [Video of crack babies fighting over a ball full of crack.] I mean, it's cool because like the commercial said, crack babies had nothing before. It's, it's great, because everyone wins. See that, two million hits!"
Which is to say if anybody has video of crack babies fighting over a ball of crack, please send them my way. The Bumfights DVD has gotten boring.
Mavs advance, become "America's sweetheart": "It wasn't only the Western Conference championship, it wasn't only a return to the NBA Finals, the Dallas Mavericks also achieved another franchise milestone on Wednesday night. They now become the most beloved basketball team in the world. Over the next few weeks, even Mark Cuban will be considered cuddly. Imagine that." [Star-Telegram]
The Bruins can still prove they're not Scott Norwood on Ice: The Tampa Bay Lightning are 3-0 in Game 7 playoff games. The Boston Bruins are 10-10. Thanks to Steven Stamkos, Marty St. Louis, and Vinny Lecavalier combining for eight points in a 5-4 home win, we'll know Friday whether Tampa will remain undefeated or if the Bruins can break the .500 mark. Winner faces the Vancouver Canucks for Stanley Cup name-etching rights. [Tampa Tribune]
No lead is safe for Kim Clijsters: Over at the French Open, Kim Clijsters was up a set, had a 3-0 lead in the second and ultimately had two match points. Then, she lost to Arantxa Rus, the 114th ranked entrant, who advances to the third round. [BBC Sport]
Hallmark-created milestones: Mariano Rivera became the first pitcher in MLB history to appear in 1,000 games with the same team. Which is cute because that means they consider the Orioles a major-league franchise. [New York Post]
And the Lakers forge ahead with the final piece of a dynasty in the making: The guy who used to answer to LeBron took a job answering to Kobe. [L.A. Times]
NFL bosses try to stick it to the NFL bosses' bosses: In filing a brief with the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, NFL coaches sided with their underlings rather than their overlords because, well, the owner-imposed lockout puts their jobs in jeopardy. Defying the people who signs their checks apparently doesn't. "Owners and fans increasingly demand immediate success, and coaches whose teams cannot fulfill such severe expectations face likely dismissal, which means the uprooting of families, economic dislocation, and a significantly less promising career path," NFLCA lawyers wrote. [ESPN]
Ben takes care of those who took care of him: A Pittsburgh newspaper has reported that Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger provided "perks" for his cop friends/(alleged) rape-room bouncers. Seats in his luxury box. Showing up at their charity events. That kind of noble stuff: "While state police couldn't prove that [Trooper Ed] Joyner was Roethlisberger's bodyguard, a violation of state police policy, Skonier wrote that he ruled against Joyner in part because it became 'difficult to determine where the "job" ends and the friendship begins.'" [Pittsburgh Tribune-Review]
Tony Romo's wedding represents the lone exception to lockout restrictions: "At the NFL owners meetings Wednesday in Indianapolis, [Jerry] Jones said that he'll attend Romo's wedding Saturday in Dallas. 'I've gotten special permission,' Jones said. 'But more than anything, [I got the] right ticket from him and his fianceé — Romo's wife-to-be. [It's] one of prettiest invitations I've ever seen. So, yes, I will be there and [I'm] proud for him. He's got the best end of this deal.'" [ESPNDallas]
Acts of contrition: West Virginia's football-coach-in-waiting Dana Holgorsen was quite sorry for getting all fired up at the Mardi Gras Casino & Resort last week: "The Nitro Police Department responded to a 911 call from the casino at 3:13 a.m. because an apparently intoxicated customer was 'refusing to cooperate with the casino's management,' according to Metro 911 dispatch logs. Casino supervisors had the customer detained after he declined to leave." [Charleston Daily Mail]
Protector of children: So, 47-year-old Mirko Samardzic apparently didn't like how his son got treated during a Vermont high-school soccer game. He now stands accused of "jumping a fence at the end of a playoff game, striking Burlington goalie Amir Pasic and another player, Mohamed Mohamed, and also being disorderly by fighting." Trial started yesterday. There's fight video on the link. [Burlington Free Press]
Bars and stripes forever: Here's everything you wanted to know about the "Rise and Fall of Zubaz." Just one thing's missing, though: Zubaz never fell. Zubaz's remain the apparel of true royalty. [Mental Floss]
Your UEFA Mini-Roundup: Masked men traveling together in a van-bound wolfpack have taken to attacking paparazzi's cars outside Ryan Giggs's house [Sky News].
Just two months after having a tumor removed from his liver, Barcelona defender Eric Abidal expects to play this weekend. [NYT].
And: "Park Ji-Sung has revealed that frog juice is the bizarre secret behind the lung-bursting energy that makes the South Korean a key part of Manchester United's bid to beat Barcelona in the Champions League final on Saturday." [AFP]