Bill Plaschke, the Times' "A" columnist, must have choked on his morning coffee when he read this headline in today's sports section: "Jones Is Cleared After Second Test."
That would be track star Marion Jones, whose "B" urine sample came up clean. That means Jones has been cleared (for now) of a drug violation. And that means that it's time for Plaschke to deliver.
Here's what Plaschke wrote in his column on Aug. 19, after Jones' "A" sample came back positive: "Jones has tested positive for the banned performance-enhancer EPO, and if her "B" urine sample later says otherwise, I'll give [Tour de France cyclist and alleged doper] Floyd Landis a ride down the Harbor Freeway on my handlebars."
The question is: Will Plaschke shave his legs or just go natural?
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As the NFL prepares to kick off the 2006 season tonight, the Washington Post's Les Carpenter weighs in on the conundrum that is professional football in Los Angeles. Or, as the Post's headline puts it, "The NFL's Search for El Dorado."
It's a comprehensive guide to the situation. Carpenter interviewed many of the usual suspects (Pat Lynch, Zev Yaroslavsky, Mark Ridley-Thomas); he writes that the Coliseum and Anaheim are still perceived as the top contenders for stadium sites – but that Dodger Stadium still lurks. Carpenter notes that the league has lost a generation of fans – but finds that some fans here appreciate the extra dollop of televised action on weekends. Phil Anschutz, Larry Ellison, and Casey Wasserman are mentioned as potential owners, with the Chargers, Saints, and Bills mentioned as possible relocated teams. The estimated cost for a new stadium and franchise: approaching $2 billion.
Carpenter asked sports-business expert David Carter about "what harms the NFL's return to Los Angeles." The four-pronged answer: the "political factionalism of the region, a sense that the NFL is disingenuous in its dealings with the region's various cities, fan apathy, [and] a soft corporate base that has already spread its money around six other professional sports teams and two major colleges and might not be willing to spend big on luxury suites and season tickets for a football team.
The understatement of the piece comes from, natch, the NFL: "As Neil Glat, the league's vice president for strategic planning and its point man on Los Angeles, says: 'The reality is when you are dealing with a project of this scale you have to wade through a lot of complications. I think we're at a point where we understand how difficult it is' to build a stadium in Southern California."
Really? It took you 11 years to get this? Yeesh.
Carpenter's conclusion: "The NFL remains unsure what it wants to do."