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FRIDAY REWIND: Piazza fights off gay rumors

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Randy Hill

Veteran columnist Randy Hill is a frequent contributor to FOXSports.com.
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Validating a philosophy built around the notion that a dozen super models can't be wrong, Mike Piazza has admitted he's openly heterosexual. But there is alleged evidence to the contrary:
  • On many occasions, the New York Mets superstar catcher has demonstrated sartorial competence. This includes his refusal to wear a cap or helmet backward when not working.
  • A New York Post gossip columnist, while avoiding the use of Piazza's name, hinted that Mike is gay. And that was enough ... enough for a desperation press conference and Piazza's ascension to the lead role for this episode of The Friday Rewind. The ball started rolling when Mets manager Bobby Valentine— the guy who once wore a disguise back to the dugout after being evicted by an umpire — responded to a questionnaire from Details magazine. One of these inquiries sought Valentine's opinion on the sporting-world acceptance of openly gay athletes. Bobby, an open-minded fellow, responded that most people in sports are open-minded, too. But really big thinkers wondered if Bobby was just pretending to be enlightened because his star player is homosexual. Piazza's sexual orientation for years has been a subject for debate among New Yorkers, who probably think a catcher is not allowed to be even slightly more handsome than Yogi Berra. Anyway, after the Post gossip column all but announced that he would be joining the cast of "Will & Grace," Piazza decided to swing away at this issue. "I'm not gay," he told reporters outside the Mets dugout. "I'm heterosexual." With his shame revealed, Mike retreated to the clubhouse, popped on the headphones and psyched up for the game by listening to a Cher CD. Later that evening, he was "outed" three times by the Philadelphia Phillies. But that doesn't matter. Regardless of how many sexually oriented rumors occur between now and then, Piazza eventually will be going straight to Cooperstown.
  • San Francisco Giants slugger Barry Bonds has not made a sexual declaration all week. But Bonds did admit that he's among the 15 percent of major league players who do not use anabolic steroids. According to ex-slugger Jose Canseco, 85 percent of big-leaguers are steroid fiends. Barry felt obligated to address this steroid issue because the question was raised when he began looking bigger. He also is looking a bit friendlier, but I haven't heard any rumors about Bonds taking St. John's Wort.
  • Baltimore Orioles outfielder Marty Cordova has been out of the lineup due to complications from overexposure in a tanning bed. After feeling the burn, Marty was unable to answer the bell for a day game. According to Jose Canseco, 85 percent of big-leaguers have at least experimented with tanning beds. Marty shook off his facial burns to slug a home run in Thursday's game. The Orioles were planning a rehab assignment for Cordova, who would have spent the next two games on sunless tanning lotion.
  • The Seattle Mariners survived a scare after completing their series in Beantown. One of the team's two airport-bound buses had to be evacuated when the cabin filled with smoke. This incident occurred while the M's were traveling through Boston's Ted Williams Tunnel. If they had taken the Bill Buckner Tunnel, the Mariners' buses would have rolled right through.
  • The Chicago White Sox, who believe there is more to baseball than actual baseball, are planning a "Sleepover Night" promotion for Comiskey Park. The event's first perk is a June 8 date with the Montreal Expos. When the game's over, 250 fans will camp on the outfield grass. There will be a movie on the big screen, scary stories (David Wells leaving the shower, etc.) and lights out. (If the sleepover guests include couples, I'll bet the movie that's shown is not "Monster's Ball.") On June 9, the robust 250 will stick around for another game with the Expos. This guarantees that — regardless of the outcome — at least some of the White Sox fans will stink even worse than the team.
  • Spurred by video-screen deployment of their "Rally Monkey," the Disney-owned Anaheim Angels produced 21 victories in 24 games. According to industry sources, the monkey may be called up to participate in ABC's struggling lineup.

    NBA

  • Chris Webber may think Sacramento is a soul food wasteland, but eating in that town can be a religious experience. Our witness is L.A. Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant, who spent several post-meal hours kneeling in his hotel room. The alleged culprits were a bacon-cheeseburger and a slice of companion cheesecake supplied by room service. Kobe, bowing to the Kings' home food-court advantage, used food poisoning as a dandy reason to miss Monday's Game 2 shoot-around. He did play that night, contributing 22 points in the Laker defeat. Some critics are crowing that the illness and attempted heroics were choreographed as Bryant's copycat ode to Michael Jordan. But Lakers sources believe that while kneeling in his hotel room, Kobe was paying tribute to Ralph Sampson.
  • Shaquille O'Neal's review of Game 2 officiating should, at the least, assure Burger King customers that his Shaq Pack entrée is 100 percent beef.
  • The Boston Celtics managed to win Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals despite Paul Pierce and Antoine Walker combining to miss 38 of 52 field-goal attempts. Coach Jim O'Brien probably believes the team's color scheme dictates that star players always have the green light.
  • His late-night show may be fading away, but Bill Maher of "Politically Incorrect" has landed a prominent, L.A.-based NBA center as one of his final guests. Right, restricted free agent Michael Olowokandi. In related news, Michael's team, the L.A. Clippers, will raise ticket prices an average of $5 per game. Considering the franchise's string of sellouts and the team's improvement, this hike doesn't seem out of the question. It does seem like enough potential revenue to cover the first year of Olowokandi's recommended pay raise.

    Boxing

  • As a teenager, Manute Bol murdered a lion with a spear. As an adult, he and his cronies almost killed FOX with their fighting skills. But if you think Manute looked bad, you should have seen the other guy.
    Demolition Darva
    Check out the highlights of Darva Conger's bout with Olga Korbut in FOX's Celebity Boxing II. Conger proved to be too much to handle for the former gymnast.
  • Watch it!
    Also:
  • FIGHT RECAPS:


  • The other guy on this particular portion of the under-card for "Celebrity Boxing II" was ex-Chicago Bear William "The Refrigerator" Perry. "The Fridge" looks hopelessly unplugged these days. And, at a cookie or two on the far side of 500 pounds (just an estimate), I doubt that any of Perry's meals make it as far as the refrigerator. His robe appeared capable of moonlighting as a parachute. Bol, the 7-foot-7 former Washington Bullet, won the fight because he has a longer reach than Tony Soprano. Another former athlete on Wednesday's broadcast under-card was Olympic sweetheart-turned-Georgia shoplifter Olga Korbut. Olga was no match for hard-hitting Darva Conger, whose 15 minutes of fame must have been timed by a Casio. Korbut's defeat was convincing, but Darva failed to knock the former gymnast off her feet. Too bad. I wanted to see if Olga could still stick the landing. Randy Hill can be reached at his e-mail address, rhill@foxsports.com.
  • Tagged: Orioles, Angels, White Sox, Mariners, Mets, Giants

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