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Original Issue

For the Record

Afleet Alex, who won this year's Preakness and Belmont (above). The colt, who finished a close-up third at the Kentucky Derby, hadn't raced since the Belmont because of a left front ankle injury, and last week a veterinarian discovered that one of the bones in the ankle is dangerously brittle. Trainer Tom Ritchey said the injury is related to Afleet Alex's dramatic near crash in the Preakness; he stumbled and nearly fell to his knees in the stretch but recovered to win. "It will heal, but you're looking at six to eight months," Ritchey said. "And with a horse of his value and his credentials, he just needs to be retired and go to stud."

By the Red Sox, former Boston first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz, to gain permanent custody of the ball he caught for the last out of the 2004 World Series. After the two sides squabbled over the ball--estimated to be worth between $100,000 and $200,000--last year, Mientkiewicz agreed to lend it to the team for a year. (It was delivered to Fenway Park in an armored truck.) In court papers filed last week the team argued that Mientkiewicz "obtained the baseball through the course of his employment, that he acquired no ownership interest and that the Red Sox are the rightful owners of the baseball."

Rape charges against former LaSalle basketball player Dzaflo Larkai, whose trial was to have begun on Monday. In June 2004 Larkai, 23, was accused of having raped a member of LaSalle's women's basketball team 14 months earlier. The woman, who has not been identified, told police she had told women's coach John Miller and men's coach Billy Hahn about the alleged attack right after it happened but was discouraged by the coaches from pressing charges. (Hahn and Miller, who both deny discouraging the victim, resigned in July 2004.) On Monday, hours before Larkai's trial was to begin, the woman decided not to go forward with the case.

By Representative Joe Barton (R., Texas), chairman of the congressional subcommittee that regulates the sports industry, a hearing on the Bowl Championship Series. Barton said there is no legislation planned, but he hopes a discussion of the BCS might lead to improvements. "Too often college football ends in sniping and controversy rather than winners and losers," said Barton, who called the system "deeply flawed." In 2003 the Senate held hearings on whether the system was biased against smaller schools but took no action.

At age 78 of cancer, former All-Star first baseman Vic Power. One of the first Hispanic players in the majors, the native of Puerto Rico was signed by the Yankees in 1952 and broke into the big leagues with the Philadelphia A's in 1954. Over the next 12 seasons, mostly with the A's, Indians and Twins, Power (above) won seven Gold Gloves and was known for a flamboyant, one-handed fielding style and for countering racism with a sense of humor. Once, while playing in the South as a minor leaguer, he was refused service by a waitress who said the restaurant didn't serve Negroes. "That's O.K.," he replied. "I don't eat Negroes."

From having tapes of his team's games reviewed by the NFL's officiating supervisors for two weeks, Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren. Coaches often send film to the league as a way of complaining about questionable calls, and the officiating office sometimes issues confidential apologies for mistakes. Last week Holmgren told reporters the league had told him that there were officiating errors made in Seattle's overtime win over the Giants on Nov. 27--and according to ESPN, the league blackballed him temporarily for going public. "I kind of messed up," Holmgren said. "What I should have said was, 'I talked to the league, but what was said was confidential.'"

German speedskater Monique Garbrecht-Enfeldt, 36, a nine-time world champion and three-time Olympian. Garbrecht-Enfeldt (right), won a silver medal in the 1,000 meters at the 2002 Games and a bronze in 1992, and in her career she broke four world records. This is her second retirement: She said she was tired of skating in 1995 but a year later decided she hadn't given the sport her full effort. Three years later she set her first world record, in the 1,000 meters. Garbrecht-Enfeldt said she stepped aside last week because she isn't ready for February's Turin Olympics.

By FIFA, plans to use a so-called "smartball" during World Cup games next year. The balls, which are embedded with a microchip, send a signal to a device on the referee's wrist if they cross the goal line. They were tested at the under-17 World Cup in Peru this year; a FIFA official said there was "room for improvement." A second test was scheduled for the World Club Championship in Japan later this month, but FIFA put that on hold until the technology can be improved. "That means it's no longer a theme for the World Cup," said FIFA president Sepp Blatter.

By Saudi Arabia's Education Ministry, exams that were scheduled to be given in the country's schools and universities during soccer's World Cup next summer. The ministry said it didn't want to ruin students' enjoyment of the tournament, which will be played in Germany, by making them study for tests; it also said that their grades were likely to suffer if they spent too much time watching TV instead of studying when games were on. The Saudis, led by Asian Player of the Year Hamad Al Montashari, will make their third consecutive trip to the World Cup finals next year.

By Clinton Portis, yet another alter ego: Reverend Gonna Change. The Redskins running back has taken to showing up for his weekly press meetings in bizarre costumes (SCORECARD, Nov. 28). With Washington in the midst of a three-game slide, Portis wanted to stop playing around, but his teammates urged him to continue. "They said we need something positive around here," he said. He said he picked his latest name because he hoped it would help the team buck its losing trend. It did. The Redskins beat the Rams 24-9 on Sunday, thanks to the all-right Reverend's 136 yards rushing and two touchdowns.

Go Figure

Number of American-born players on the NAIA men's soccer All-America first team.

Receiving yards by Tulsa's Garrett Mills this season, an NCAA record for a tight end.

The Packers' scoring differential during their 2-10 start; Green Bay has been outscored 242-239 so far this season.

The 49ers' scoring differential during their 2-10 start (they've been outscored 340-183).

Three-interception games by Buccaneers cornerback Ronde Barber; both have come against New Orleans quarterback Aaron Brooks, Barber's former teammate at Virginia.

Last Ride

A big-wave star dies at the Banzai Pipeline

ON APRIL 29, 2003, Malik Joyeux rode a barreling 40-foot wave, the biggest anyone had ever seen at Teahupoo, Tahiti, one of the most treacherous surfing sites on the planet (right). The ride earned him the Billabong XXL Tube of the Year award and a Surfer magazine cover. Last Friday, surfing a smaller wave at the notoriously dangerous Banzai Pipeline in Hawaii, he wiped out violently. When his body was pulled from the water--about 15 minutes later--the 25-year-old, who was one of his sport's most popular competitors, was dead. "[Joyeux was] a very positive and happy person, always stoked," Laird Hamilton told the Los Angeles Times.

Small Wonder

Tiny--and undefeated--Portland whipped UCLA and took the NCAA soccer title

IT DIDN'T take long for UCLA to lose the aura of invincibility it brought into the NCAA women's soccer championship game on Sunday. The Bruins had outscored opponents 25-0 in their five playoff games and hadn't allowed a goal in 452 minutes. But 92 seconds in, Portland's Angie Woznuk slipped a shot past UCLA goalkeeper Valerie Henderson. Said Woznuk, who also had two assists in a 4-0 win, "To score a goal that early, I think, makes the other team question a little bit what they're capable of."

It was also a reminder that tiny Portland (enrollment: 3,400) is a powerhouse. The Pilots (23-0-2) have won two of the last four NCAA titles, and they're the first team other than North Carolina to cap an undefeated season with a national championship. (The Tar Heels have done it 10 times.)

Portland's rise has been led by senior Christine Sinclair, 22, a Canadian national team member recruited when she was a 16-year-old in Burnaby, B.C. With two goals in the final, she set an NCAA single-season record (39) and became the NCAA tournament's alltime leading scorer (25). She's a near lock to win her sport's Heisman, the Hermann Trophy, for a second straight year. "This team just showed the whole country what it's built out of," said coach Garrett Smith. "[This is] a foundation that will always be with us."















SENIOR MOMENT Sinclair was recruited by Portland at age 16.