Naughty or Nice

Only six months into the year, and everyone's already feeling so giving. It's either that the dang global warming thing has gotten to folks' heads, or that Christmas in July indeed exists.

While the former has been used to explain every natural phenomenon this side of El Nino, the latter makes more sense in the situations below all acts of extreme charity, or something.

Sportspeak has consulted two Christmas experts to offer perspective on the following:

The gift: Starting spot on the American League All-Star team on July 10

The giver: Baseball fans

The getter: Cal Ripken, Jr., Baltimore Orioles third baseman

The naughty: Ripken is batting just .227, worst (by 60 points) of any starter for either the American or National Leagues; he's only played in 57 games.

The nice: He's an American baseball icon having had a streak of 2,632 consecutive games in his career.

Scrooge says: Bah, this Ripken bloke's washed-up - he's no All-Star. His batting average is tinier than Tim. And he only works half the time anymore. He's not even the best third-baseman on his team, let alone in the AL. It's hypocrisy. Hypocrisy I tell you!! But, that's what happens when you let the fans pick the All-Stars. All fans care about is having fun. Fans don't know about the game anymore; they just know the big names. They get all emotional and pick their favorites, not the best players. Major league baseball should let managers pick the players, or better yet, cancel the All-Star game.

Santa says: Cal's a good example of discipline, endurance and loyalty for all the boys and girls out there. I think he and I started our careers at the same time, so I'm a big fan of his. The only All-Star game he's ever missed was last year when he was hurt, so they should let him start one last time since he's retiring after this year. Maybe I'll retire too. Wonder what Cal'd look like in a red suit and how well he'd get along with elves?

The gift: $30,000 worth of Heisman Trophy promotion, beginning first week of July

The giver: Indiana Hoosier football boosters

The getter: Antwaan Randle El, Indiana University senior receiver

The naughty: Randle El, quarterback his first three years at IU, has never even played receiver full-time.

The nice: He was one of the most fun-to-watch guys in college last year, and should be this year too, despite his new position.

Scrooge says: You can't buy the Heisman trophy. You used to not be able to, anyway. But confound it, people are trying. I hate public relations. This Randle El boy's picture is going to be on mousepads and junk mail all over America. But he's never even been on a winning team and he won't be this year. Those boosters are just trying to get their program some notoriety, when they should be trying to get themselves a new coach. It's a disgrace.

Santa says: Randle El's probably the best athlete in college football, but I'd have to check my list to be sure. Plus, he's tough, and tough to tackle. And versatile. He won't be the best receiver in college, or the best quarterback even, but he's probably the best player, and that's who should get that trophy. So what if people spend money to promote him they spend money to promote me too, and no one complains! Plus, I'm partial to red uniforms.

The gift: Free agency, as of July 2

The giver: Michael Jordan, Washington Wizards owner and basketball operations chief

The getter: Mitch Richmond, (former) Wizards shooting guard

The naughty: The 36-year-old Richmond only played 37 games last year.

The nice: Still a potential All-Star, Richmond walks away with $10 million, as the Wizards bought out the final two years of his contract.

Scrooge says: That Michael Jordan is a greedy, penny-pinching chap. He's unloading Mr. Richmond so that there's room on the roster for him to insert himself, and his cantankerous chum "Sir" Charles Barkley. The audacity of that man, to let himself be called Sir. I, for one, know plenty of Sirs, and none of them would ever be caught associating with that Mr. Barkley.

Santa says: Richmond shouldn't complain, and if he does, I'll make a note of it. He doesn't have to work and still gets $10 million. You could buy a lot of toys with all that money. Incidentally, I think the Wizards should wear red jerseys next year.

The gift: A run with the bulls in Pamplona, Spain, on July 7

The giver: John L. Smith, University of Louisville football coach

The getter: John L. Smith, University of Louisville football coach

The naughty: Last year, 43 people were stampeded and 9 were gored. Since 1924, 13 people have been killed.

The nice: The run only lasts three minutes and there's only six bulls.

Scrooge says: It's a damn foolish thing to do on purpose. I don't care if it is a dream of his, I say he's just showing off.

Santa says: I run with reindeer plenty, and that's never been a problem. But I'm not so sure about bulls. Coach better watch his you-know-what. And I hope he leaves Cardinal gear at home, because this is one time I don't advocate wearing red.


The Day the Music Died

If you're looking for something to cultivate the jazz within, it looks like you'll have to turn elsewhere.

The Kentucky Center for the Arts' Jazz and Heritage Festival (formerly Jazz in Central Park), has been canceled this year because of an absence of sufficient corporate sponsorship.

The festival, which was to have been held from August 3-5 at Waterfront Park, was going to be an expanded version of previous festivals, including artists in different musical genres.

Are they down and out for good?

Not so, officials at KCA say. The organization will continue to seek corporate sponsorship and are confident that the festival will return next year.–Loree Stark


Former NASA astronaut Story Musgrave will be on hand at the Centre College campus to speak to Governor's Scholars Program participants about his adventures in space on July 4. Musgrave, a Lexington resident, will open the program at 7:30 p.m. in Newlin Hall at the Norton Center for the Arts. A cowboy and fireman will also be on hand to help the little ones decide what they want to be when they grow up.

The program is free and open to the public.–LS

New (and old) in Local Art World

Donald E. Sands, former vice chancellor for academic affairs and former chair of the chemistry department at U.K., has come out of retirement to serve as acting director of the University of Kentucky Art Museum until a permanent successor is selected to replace Harriett Fowler-Mobley, who retired June 30.

Fowler-Mobley directed the Art Museum since 1990, during the time the museum received the George and Susan Proskauer bequest - a prestigious gift of modern and folk art as well as art glass - and the Robert C. May Photography Endowment, which included more than 1,000 photographs and funds to establish a lecture series.

The interim position is nothing new to Sands, who has served in other interim positions at UK, most recently as the acting dean of the College of Arts and Sciences in 1997.

During Sands' stay as acting director, a national search will continue for a permanent art director.–LS

Loss of a Legend

On Saturday, June 30th, country music legend Chet Atkins died after a long battle with cancer. He was 77.

Atkins, executive of the RCA Nashville record label, pioneered and created The Nashville Sound, a country-western genre that matched its raw mountain ancestor with complex string arrangements, echo effects and other musical adornments.

Atkins made a name for himself on the merits of both his ability to produce artists and his unique guitar fingerpicking style, described by critics as "a psuedoclassical ariation on the work of Merle Travis with influence from Django Reinhart." Atkins joked that his fingerpicking style, so loved by others, sounded "like two guitarists playing badly."

As a musician, Atkins worked with artists ranging from Elvis Presley and Hank Williams to The Everly Brothers. As a label executive, Atkins helped to foster and manage the careers of countless country stars, including Dolly Parton, Jim Reeves and Roy Orbison.

Atkins is survived by his wife of fifty years, Mrs. Leona Johnson Atkins, and his daugher, Merle Atkins. -Eric Newman