WHEN YOU'RE married to Jessica Simpson, you can afford to splurge on a major league team. When you're divorced from Ms. Simpson, as Nick Lachey is, a one-third stake in a Triple A team is more realistic. Lachey, who tried in vain several years back to buy a stake in his hometown Cincinnati Reds, is now part owner of the Seattle Mariners' Pacific Coast League affiliate, the Tacoma (Wash.) Rainiers. "Aside from entertainment, sports is my passion," Lachey told SI. "After that Reds experience, I was just driven to do this." The move makes Lachey a two-sport owner—he co-owns the ABA's Hollywood Fame with Ravens quarterback Kyle Boller and others—but he promises not to be a minor league Mark Cuban. "I'd hate to be one of those owners who's meddling," he says. "I won't be out on the field bumping chests with players."
• Mia Hamm had a good excuse when she declined induction into the Texas Sports Hall of Fame this February: She's pregnant with twins. The former U.S. soccer star, 34, and husband Nomar Garciaparra, 33, who just signed a two-year contract extension with the Dodgers, are due to become parents in early spring, and she has been advised not to travel after January. "We've never had anybody decline because they were pregnant," says Hall director Steve Fallon, who will honor Warren Moon, Jerry Jones and Billy Sims. Hamm (left, with Garciaparra) says she will accept the honor in 2008 instead.
• So much for those rumors this fall that Tony Parker and Eva Longoria had split up. After scoring 14 points in a loss at Utah on Nov. 29, the Spurs guard, 24, jetted to the Desperate Housewives star's home in Los Angeles and asked her to marry him. Longoria's publicist, Liza Anderson, says the 31-year-old actress "very happily" said yes and that the pair "have never been happier." (Did we mention that Eva is happy?) They're planning a ceremony—it will be Parker's first marriage and Longoria's second—for next summer in Parker's native France.
• Big Boi gets plenty of respect—as half of the rap group Outkast he has won six Grammy Awards—but he still thinks he can channel Rodney Dangerfield. In his next movie, Who's Your Caddy?, Big Boi will play a character inspired by Dangerfield's Caddyshack role: a black music mogul who joins a conservative country club that's run by actor Jeffrey Jones (Ferris Bueller's Day Off). "[Caddyshack] had plenty of dope lines," Big Boi says, "and we kind of want to do that too."
SIGN OF THE
Parents at Castro Valley (Calif.) High demanded that the girls' basketball team be chosen by a six-person panel instead of the coach.
How do you stop a charging elephant? You take away his credit cards—or, if you're playing in the World Elephant Polo Association's annual tournament, you give him a hip check with your own pachyderm. The WEPA invitational, played in Nepal since 1982, drew eight teams from around the world this year. For the third year running, Scotland lumbered off with the trophy. It's a victory the participants won't soon forget.
They Said It
BAYARMAA TSOGTBAATAR, Mongolian beach volleyball player, on how she expects her country to fare at this week's Asian Games:
"Beach volleyball in Mongolia is very difficult, because we don't have any beaches."
GOPAL CHITRAKAR/REUTERS (PICTURE THIS)
PAUL HAWTHORNE/GETTY IMAGES (HAMM AND GARCIAPARRA)