Danica To Bare It All For ESPN Mag’s “Nude” Issue

Last February I wrote that I thought SPORTS ILLUSTRATED would eventually push its swimsuit models into posing nude in order to keep publishing’s largest selling annual mag copy, the vaunted SI Swimsuit Issue, on top of the circulation heap.

Danica Patrick SI

Perhaps someone at ESPN THE MAGAZINE was listening.

ESPN Mag Sales vs. SI: Wonder what they'd look like without swimsuit stats?

Yesterday I posted a graphic comparing ad revenue between SI and ESPN The Magazine. While SI more than doubled ESPN’s ad take, I wondered if the swimsuit issue was subtracted, would SI still be ahead of ESPN’s print offering?

Leryn Franco Bikini Photo Shoot

(One of SbB’s suggestions for ESPN The Mag “Nude” Issue - Leryn Franco)

Apparently ESPN also took notice of that recently as I’ve since learned from two Bristol-based sources that in October ESPN The Magazine will roll out a “nude issue”, with the edition featuring SI Swimsuit Issue favorite Danica Patrick.

Danica Patrick Now Has Bigger Tattoo

(Will Danica’s tramp stamp survive the ESPN shoot, unlike at SI?)

Besides Danica, who do you want to see nude in ESPN The Magazine?

Read more…

Speed Read: Turnberry Getting Its Revenge Today

After a day that saw the lowest opening round ever at the British Open Championship and a 59-year-old dude lapping Turnberry like it’s a pitch-and-putt, it appears that the golf gods are turning the screws on the field today. Let’s put it this way, Tiger Woods has moved up more than 20 spots on the leaderboard so far today by not playing golf.

Tom Watson

(It’s been 32 years since we’ve seen this much arm hair and a Claret Jug in the same photo)

Tiger will tee off shortly, and he’ll do so on a damp, dreary, and (most importantly) windy day on the Scottish shoreline. Tom Watson (pictured above) is already out on the course, looking to build on his improbable 65. Yesterday’s clubhouse leader, Miguel Angel Jimenez, has already dropped four shots on the front nine as of press time. His ridiculous ponytail is threatening to blow into the ocean as we speak.

Miguel Angel Jimenez

Ben Curtis was one of three players who started the day one behind, but he’s fallen off the map, firing a brutal 80 and falling all the way to a tie for 108th in the process. Others who have gone completely in the tank today are Mike Weir, Ian Poulter, Hunter Mahan, and US Open champ Lucas Glover. And John Daly looks just as ridiculous wearing this in Scotland as he does over here:

John Daly

American Steve Marino is one of the only players who has negotiated the course well so far, following a first-round 67 with a 68 today. At 5-under, Marino might find himself playing in the final group on Saturday if the wind continues to howl during this afternoon’s play. Marino has never won on the PGA Tour and never even played in an Open. Japan’s Kenichi Kuboya has gone to 6-under as I write this, but he’s still early in his round and may have come back to earth by the time you read this.

Dan Marino

(No, no, *Steve* Marino)

David Beckham made his long-awaited return to the MLS last night for the L.A. Galaxy. Well, it was at least a mildly-awaited return. Alright, let’s be honest, if Landon Donovan hadn’t called the guy out in that book would anyone even know he was back? The citizens of the New York metro area certainly didn’t seem to care that much, as only 23,000 or so showed up to see the Galaxy beat up on the hapless Red Bulls.

Beckham and Donovan

Not surprisingly, Beckham looked slow and tired, as he hadn’t played in a match since the end of May. Donovan scored once and assisted on another goal, and Beckham attempted to bury the hatchet once and for all by bro-hugging him all the way down the field as they celebrated Landon’s goal.

But the tepid response to Beckham’s return was the real story. Just a year ago, Beckham drew more than 46,000 fans out to the Meadowlands, which was down from the 66,000+ who came in 2007. He clearly prefers playing in Europe and living in Europe, so what’s the point now? He has run his course here, and his continued presence is just going to become an embarrassment for all involved — AEG for overestimating the Beckham brand in America, MLS for not shedding American pro soccer’s reputation of only drawing international stars after they’re washed up, and Beckham himself, who is going to have to deal with playing in front of 12,000 people in Kansas City and pretending that he’s happy to be there.

So when is the plug pulled for good? The Galaxy have friendly matches coming up with AC Milan (his other team) and Champions League winners Barcelona, as well as 12 more league matches that stretch into late October. European leagues start at the end of August. Is he going to want to stick around here when he could be getting “better prepared” for next year’s World Cup elsewhere? And more importantly, does anyone really care if he stays or goes?

David Beckham

• OK, so how did U.S. Ski Team member Cody Marshall suffer a serious head injury?

A) Training hard for the upcoming Olympics.

B) Riding the railing of an escalator in the mall like a 12-year-old.

Do I need to even answer this for you? Perhaps the biggest problem was that the escalator wasn’t even turned on.

•  Nice timing for the big celebrity golf tournament in Lake Tahoe this weekend. I mean, it’s not like there’s another important golf tournament going on or anything. I guess if Tiger tanks it today everyone can take solace in being able to watch Charles Barkley shoot 110.

Adam Morrison has finally found a league he can dominate — the NBA summer league in Vegas. The LA TIMES caught up with him there. Seriously, though, the guy has taken a beating just about everywhere so it would be a great story if he could somehow turn himself into a useful NBA player.

• The Jazz are planning on matching the Blazers’ offer to restricted free agent Paul Millsap, which ESPN says might help facilitate a trade that would send Carlos Boozer to Chicago and Kirk Hinrich to Portland.

Ronnie Milsap

(No, no, *Paul* Millsap. It’s not even spelled the same.)

• Remember the good old days when Dominican baseball prospects just lied about their age? Now they don’t even use their real names. The Yankees are the latest team to have apparently been duped by a prospect from the D.R. SPORTS ILLUSTRATED says they signed who they thought was 16-year-old shortstop Damian Arredondo to an $850,000 bonus, but they have been informed by MLB’s Department of Investigations that not only is he not really 16, but he’s also not really Damian Arredondo. Whoever he is, the Yankees don’t have to pay him the bonus and the player is now banned from being offered a contract by another team for a year.

• More evidence that Rich Rodriguez might not be working out in Ann Arbor? An offensive lineman who has left the program to transfer to Ball State says this: “They were bringing in a lot of different kids that were not my kind of crowd. Coach Carr’s staff was a whole different ballgame. It was like a family. But when Rodriguez came in it was a whole different feeling. It was more of a business.”

Ricky Williams would like to give you a body massage.

• That car that Stan Musial rode around in at the All-Star Game the other night was a Ford. And, since we all know that “this is oooouuurrrr coouuuntryyyy” and Chevy owns our souls during baseball telecasts, they had to actually put tape over the Ford logo. Maybe that’s why the guy driving was so surly the whole time (thanks UNI WATCH).

Stan Musial

• The MIAMI HERALD was trumpeting the Marlins-Phillies series that began last night at (shudder) Land Shark Stadium, saying that crowds of “upwards of 30,000″ were expected for the series. Actual attendance last night: 15,171. But look at the bright side — that’s 15,000 fewer people to be embarrassed by watching their team get one-hit by a 46-year-old.

Ryan Howard hit his 200th career homer last night in his 658th game, the fewest ever for someone to reach the milestone. The previous record holder was Ralph Kiner, who did it in 706 games.

• Everybody’s talking about the dress Erin Andrews wore to the ESPY Awards, but Natalie Gulbis was looking pretty nice herself:

Natalie Gulbis

Has the David Beckham MLS “experiment” been a success?

View Results

Naked Sunbather Arrested On English Golf Course

When shooting a few rounds on the local fairways, it’s always good to keep an eye out for any balls in the rough. Especially if they’re attached to a guy on the golf course who’s sunbathing naked.

Anna Rawson

(Unfortunately, we have don’t have a photo of said naked sunbather. So here’s a shot of a semi-naked Anna Rawson instead. Hope this suffices.)

MK NEWS reports that group of golfers at the Abbey Hill Golf Center in Milton Keynes, England, were playing the ninth hole, when they came across a large 22-year-old man “wearing just his socks, lying on the fairway at the ninth hole, with a dog standing by his side.”

How shocking! I didn’t know dogs were allowed on golf courses.

Read more…

Russian: ‘If We Are Ugly Nobody Will Be Interested’

The LONDON TIMES has an epic piece on Yelena Isinbayeva, the current world record holder in the pole vault and recently named World Athlete of the Year.

Alenka Bikar Yelena Isinbayeva

(Isinbayeva (l) is hot, but doesn’t stack up to Alenka Bikar)

Apparently Ms. Isinbayeva hasn’t endeared herself to her competitors over the years with her standoff attitude and candor about their looks. Excerpt:

She is the self-styled beauty of athletics, a Volgograd vixen who says that she is happy if her rivals call her a harpy or a bitch while she bestrides centre stage as the sport’s ultimate drama queen.

Yelena Isinbayeva

It’s a shame we haven’t heard (and seen) more from her until now. But with track now off the map in the American sports psyche (even in an Olympic year), we’ll have to settle for some of her delicious comments in the Times piece - and millions of tribute videos on Youtube. Read more…

Romo, Simpson Seen Selecting Engagement Rings

• Tired of waiting for a Super Bowl ring, Tony Romo might be teaming up with Jessica Simpson in acquiring some engagement jewelry.

Tony Romo and Jessica Simpson

• The Red Sox seem to have a knack for smacking the Angels in October.

• A Cubs fan gets arrested for throwing a ball at Manny Ramirez. And being a Cubs fan, of course he completely misses.

• The New Jersey Nets are offering a unique “pick up now, pay later” plan for season tickets. The catch - you still have to watch the Nets.

• A daily double from Ocho Cinco: The Bengals WR plans to kiss the Cowboys’ star and wet his lips with too much booze.

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Vote: Is Claudia Porras Hottest Athlete Out There?

Pic of Bolivian baller Claudia Porras I know you haven’t seen (my gawd(!)):

Claudia Lampe Porras Bolivian UTEP basketball player

The UTEP Miner, for my money, is the hottest female athlete at the moment (sorry Allison Stokke).

Who is the hottest current female athlete?

View Results

Allison Stokke photos Anna Rawson photos Natalie Gulbis

Sorry kids, those are my favorites. (More Gulbis, Rawson.)

Commenters, did I miss anyone?

Natalie Gulbis Accepts Trump’s “Apprentice”ship

Having been beaten back to the border fence by legal and political forces for trying to require English competency in her players, LPGA commissioner Carolyn Bivens’ ladies will have to revert to old standbys to keep the league in the public’s eye: Donald Trump’s loins.

Natalie Gulbis

(Quick quiz: What languages does she speak?  Do you care?  Are you even reading this now? Exactly.)

Natalie Gulbis, somehow expert at the ways of public relations despite a sub-par 2008 season thus far, has managed to secure a spot in this season’s “Apprentice”, according to El Trump Primero himself.  We expect that marketing savvy is exactly what drew Trump to young Ms. Gulbis.  NBC has yet to confirm, but has Trump ever lied to us?

Right.  Anyway.
Read more…

PGA’s TV Ratings Whimper Without Tiger’s Roar

Despite the good story and impressive feat of Padraig Harrington winning back-to-back British Opens (as well as Greg Norman being competitive), Thomas Bonk of the L.A. TIMES passes on a shocker: without Tiger Woods, the PGA Tour’s TV ratings are taking a dive.

Tiger Woods, U.S. Open 2008

The details of the tournaments without Tiger, as far as eyeballs on sets go, do not bode well for the PGA Championship and the Ryder Cup.

Read more…

Gamers Love Golfer Natalie Gulbis and So Do Wii

BUSTED COVERAGE has video evidence that gamers do occasionally get an opportunity to look at real-life actual females.

Natalie Gublis at E3

At this year’s E3, the video game industry’s biggest tradeshow and conference, EA Sports called on the services of LPGA star, Natalie Gulbis to demonstrate the latest addition to the Tiger Woods franchise of golf games on Nintendo Wii. Along with her Wiimote, Gulbis brought along with her, quite possibly the shortest skirt she owns.

Paula Creamer The Crop, 1 Shot Off LPGA Record

Paula Creamer had a great first round at the Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic on Thursday. But had she known the correct course par, she might have tied an all-time LPGA record.

Paula Creamer

(Paula’s future’s so bright, she’s gotta wear shades)

YAHOO SPORTS reports that Creamer birdied 9 of her last 11 holes to end up with an opening round score of 60, setting a new course record for the Highland Meadows in Ohio. And she became only the fifth LPGA player to shoot a 60 or below in a competitive round.

But Paula thought the course was a par-72. It wasn’t until the end of the round that she & her caddy Colin Cann realized that it was actually a par-71. Read more…