By Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard, the National League MVP award. Howard(above) batted .313 and led the majors in home runs (58) and RBIs (149), powernumbers that are the most ever by a second-year player. Howard received 20first-place votes to 12 for Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols, the reigningNL MVP, who had similar numbers (.331, 49 HRs, 137 RBIs) and led his team to aWorld Series win. Pujols has now finished second in the MVP voting three times.Said Howard, who turned 27 on Sunday, "It's a good birthdaypresent."
By commissioner Carolyn F. Bivens, that the LPGA will begin testing forperformance-enhancing drugs in 2008. "While the LPGA has had noevidence" of drug use among players, Bivens said, "we recognize theconcerns regarding drug use in sport." The details of the testing plan areyet to be worked out, but the LPGA will work with the National Center for DrugFree Sport, which runs the NCAA's testing. "I don't think you're going tosee anything out here," said Annika Sorenstam, who is ranked No. 1 in theworld. "So it might be a waste of time. But if it's peace of mind forpeople and if we need to prove that the LPGA's clean, then let's doit."
On federal charges of participating in an Internet operation that booked morethan $3.3 billion in illegal sports bets since 2004, baseball scout FrankFalzarano, 52. Falzarano, a Long Island resident and one of 27 people indicted,was a former Giants and Marlins scout and a part-timer for the Nationals thisseason. New York City police commissioner Raymond W. Kelly said the site,called playwithal.com and operated by 52-year-old professional poker playerJames Giordano, was "the largest illegal gambling operation we have everencountered." Falzarano, whose contract was not renewed by Washington whenit expired on Oct. 31, faces between three and 25 years in prison ifconvicted.
To former Bears kicker Bob Thomas, $7 million in damages in a libel suit.Thomas, 54, who attended night school while playing for the Bears from 1975 to'84 and is now chief justice of the Illinois Supreme Court, sued the KaneCounty Chronicle after one of its columnists, citing anonymous sources, wroteseveral stories in 2003 alleging that Thomas had traded judicial votes forpolitical favors. The Chronicle is planning to appeal, and the case could landin the Illinois Supreme Court. Said Thomas of the jury that gave him what islikely the largest libel award ever in Illinois, "I do feel they gave me myname back."
By prized recruit O.J. Mayo, a letter of intent to attend USC. Mayo, 19, a6'5" guard who transferred to Huntington (W.Va.) High in September afterstarring at Cincinnati's North College Hill High for three years, is ranked asthe top high school senior in the country. (He averaged 28.6 points, 5.7rebounds and five assists per game last season.) Mayo (above) said he wanted toannounce his decision now so speculation over where he would go wouldn't be adistraction when Huntington's season started. "[USC] Coach [Tim] Floyd hasbeen an NBA coach ... and the city of Los Angeles is a great marketingcity," Mayo said. "Hopefully, if everything goes well, I can marketmyself better for the next level."
By 76ers guard Allen Iverson, the funeral expenses for a 22-year-oldPhiladelphia man who died on Nov. 14 from complications following a 2003shooting that occurred after he refused to surrender his Iverson jersey to agroup of teenagers. Kevin Johnson, who had recently graduated from high school,was paralyzed by the shooting and recently fell into a vegetative state. Hisfamily took him off life support last week; his funeral was scheduled forWednesday. "If they were that serious," Iverson said of the muggers,"I would have given them 100 jerseys."
At age 79, of respiratory and circulatory failure, former Hungarian nationalteam captain Ferenc Puskas (right), one of the giants of international soccerin the 1950s. Puskas, known as the Galloping Major in honor of his rank in theHungarian army, scored 84 goals in 85 games for the national team and ledHungary to an Olympic gold medal in 1952 and the final of the '54 World Cup. Healso starred in one of European soccer's most famous matches, scoring two goalsin Hungary's shocking upset of England at Wembley Stadium in 1953. In 1999Puskas was voted the sixth best player of the 20th century.
Eight days after North Texas football coach Darrell Dickey was fired, that theschool's athletic facility will be named for him. Dickey led the Mean Green toa 42--63 record in nine seasons and after a 3--8 start this year was axed onNov. 8. The move angered Jim McIngvale, a Houston furniture magnate and one ofNorth Texas's highest-profile boosters, who gave the school an ultimatum: HonorDickey or he would redirect a $1 million gift he gave the athletic departmentto the music program. Said athletic director Rick Villarreal, "You have tokeep the boosters' best wishes in mind."
By Chinese health officials, that mice will be used to test the safety ofathletes' food at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. China has had a rash offood-poisoning incidents this year; last month 200 students and teachers weresickened at a school in the southern part of the country. To prevent suchproblems during the Games and fend off possible terrorist plots, mice willsample ingredients 24 hours before meals are prepared. The mice developsymptoms within 17 hours if the food is tainted, faster than lab testing wouldprovide results. It isn't the first time testers have been used—human tasterswere employed at the 1988 Games in Seoul.
In Austin, Scamper, a gelding that won a record 10 Professional Rodeo CowboysAssociation barrel racing championships between 1984 and '93 (SI, Dec. 15,1986). The male foal, Clayton (above), was born on Aug. 8, but his birth waskept a secret until last week; he looks almost identical to Scamper (below),who is still alive at 29. "Scamper was one of the greatest horsesever," said Charmayne James, Scamper's owner and rider and the alltimeleader on barrel racing's money list. "I wanted to get in and save hisgenetics, because if they were ever able to clone a horse, Scamper would be thehorse to clone." James plans to breed Clayton and says he won't be racedfor fear of injury.
10,000 to 1
Odds of 4-2-3-9 turning up in the Ohio Pick 4 lottery; it was last Saturday'swinning number, worth $2.19 million and chosen 16 minutes after Ohio State beatMichigan 42--39.
Touchdowns scored by Dolphins defensive end Jason Taylor, tying the careerrecord for defensive linemen, set by the Giants' George Martin from 1975 to'88.
Games in which Wizards point guard Gilbert Arenas has scored at least 40 pointsthis season.
40-point games by other NBA players this season.
NHL games played by Sabres defenseman Teppo Numminen, the most by aEuropean-born player.
Back in the Saddle?
A French lab's mistakes are giving traction to cyclistFloyd Landis's doping defense
FLOYD LANDIS knows how to rally—ask the riders he blewby during the epic stage 17 surge that propelled him to a win in this year'sTour de France. He may be staging another, equally unexpected comeback, thistime from the failed drug test that could cost him the Tour title. Last weekthe French daily Le Monde confirmed what Landis's agent alleged last month: TheFrench lab that said Landis tested positive for testosterone during the Tourmislabeled his B sample.
The lab admitted the error but said it doesn't meanthe positive sample didn't belong to Landis. Still, the mistake could castdoubt on the test results and bolster Landis's appeal to the U.S. Anti-DopingAgency. Landis defenders are also noting that a hacker broke into the lab'ssystem and swiped data relating to his case. Says Landis's attorney HowardJacobs, "There's a general sloppiness that's unacceptable."
An entire pack of disgraced cyclists is on therebound. A Spanish judge has ruled that evidence from Operation Puerto—the Mayraid on a Madrid clinic that led to the seizure of steroids, EPO and frozenblood, and the banishment of 13 Tour riders—can't be used to disciplinecyclists until the investigation is completed. That could take more than ayear, leaving the riders free to ride for now.
A Jets rookie denies he was flipping off the world onhis (suddenly valuable) football card
LEON WASHINGTON'S cellphone rang incessantly lastweek, and his friends weren't calling to compliment the Jets' rookie runningback on his fine performance so far this season. "People were like, 'What'sup with that picture you took shooting the bird?'" Washington said. Thispuzzled him. "I can't even remember the last time I shot the bird."
As the week wore on, he realized what was happening.When Washington posed last summer for a Bowman Signs of the Future card—a linereleased by Topps to celebrate top rookies—he stood with his arms folded acrosshis chest and certain fingers extended. The card was released earlier thismonth, and many who bought it saw what Topps's quality control inspectorsapparently missed: Washington flashing an obscene gesture.
But Washington insists he wasn't trying to be naughty;rather, he says, he was trying to make an E with his fingers, a shout-out tohis friends on Jacksonville's East Side, where he grew up. Nevertheless, Toppsoffered replacements, and collectors paid nearly $100 for the card on eBay."I was a little disappointed because I don't want to send that sort ofmessage," Washington said. "I'm not that kind of person."
AL TIELEMANS (HOWARD)
STADE 2/AFP/GETTY IMAGES (LANDIS ON TV)
PEDALING HIS STORY Landis presented his new evidence on a French TV show earlier this month.
BERNARD PAPON/AP (LANDIS IN YELLOW)
CANDACE DOBSON (CLAYTON)
KENNETH SPRINGER (SCAMPER)
TOPPS/BECKETT MEDIA LP (WASHINGTON)
HAND JIVE? Washington says he was just saying hello to his friends and family in Florida.
SANDOR BOJAR/EPA (PUSKAS)
HOWIE MCCORMICK (MAYO)