Bikini'd Beyoncé; Another MLB Ballgate; Handicapping Westminster

The Magazine That Will Never Go Away:

Beyonce Knowles
Beyonce Knowles

We're all about the Internet these days, and the printed page is losing relevance every day. But don't fear for the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue – that is one institution that will never change. And this year is probably bigger than ever. That's because today Beyoncé was named as the cover model. The swimsuit issue typically features more than 100 pages of ads and averages about $50 million a year in revenue.

Ballgate Again:

Those of you who know me know that I'm a memorabilia freak. So this whole "keep the ball from the last World Series out" thing is pretty funny to me. Game-used memorabilia is seen as so valuable these days that the players themselves are hoarding it.

You might remember that, in 2004, Red Sox first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz kept the last out ball from the Red Sox championship. The team sued for the rights to the ball, and it wound up in the Hall of Fame. Well, now we have a fight involving two players.

In order to get the last out of the 2006 World Series, St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright had to throw a strike to catcher Yadier Molina. Wainright apparently had prearranged to get that ball if the last out was made, but Molina now has the ball in his home office in Puerto Rico.

"He was trying to get the ball from me, I know," Molina told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "He deserves it. He does. But that's the one thing I have from a long season. I hit .216. It was a tough year. I didn't earn much else, but I have that ball."

We'll see what happens, but it will be interesting if Major League Baseball starts to play a role in all of this. They certainly don't own the balls that are hit into the stands, but do they own the balls they stay on the playing field? Law professors debated this very subject during the Mientkiewicz-Red Sox tussle, and it was surmised that the players had the least ownership rights to the ball. In fact, National Football League spokesman Greg Aiello told me that the ownership of game balls resides with the team, so don't be surprised if, in a couple of years, you find team officials ripping the balls out of their players hands as they head to the sidelines.

By the way, the ball that went through the legs of Bill Buckner in the 1986 New York Mets-Boston Red Sox World Series was given to a man by Mookie Wilson. That man put it in an auction six years later, and it sold to actor Charlie Sheen for $93,500. Wilson made $700,000 that year, so that would have been about 14% of his salary. Although the Cardinals ball is worth less – the collectibles market isn't what it was in 1992, and that Buckner ball has a mystique to it – Molina only made $400,000 last year, and Wainwright only made $327,000. Maybe teams should make sure that at least the pitcher and the catcher are well paid before they make the final out.

What Are the Odds?

I have to hand it to John Avello, director of the race and sports book at the Wynn Las Vegas. Just for fun, Avello handicapped the odds of the Westminster Dog Show and gave the English springer spaniel the best chance of winning. Diamond Jim, the English springer spaniel won. Now that's a good call.

Questions? Comments?