Afleet Alex, who won this year's Preakness and Belmont (above). The colt, who finished a close-up third at the Kentucky Derby, hadn't raced since the Belmont because of a left front ankle injury, and last week a veterinarian discovered that one of the bones in the ankle is dangerously brittle. Trainer Tom Ritchey said the injury is related to Afleet Alex's dramatic near crash in the Preakness; he stumbled and nearly fell to his knees in the stretch but recovered to win. "It will heal, but you're looking at six to eight months," Ritchey said. "And with a horse of his value and his credentials, he just needs to be retired and go to stud."
By the Red Sox, former Boston first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz, to gain permanent custody of the ball he caught for the last out of the 2004 World Series. After the two sides squabbled over the ball--estimated to be worth between $100,000 and $200,000--last year, Mientkiewicz agreed to lend it to the team for a year. (It was delivered to Fenway Park in an armored truck.) In court papers filed last week the team argued that Mientkiewicz "obtained the baseball through the course of his employment, that he acquired no ownership interest and that the Red Sox are the rightful owners of the baseball."
Rape charges against former LaSalle basketball player Dzaflo Larkai, whose trial was to have begun on Monday. In June 2004 Larkai, 23, was accused of having raped a member of LaSalle's women's basketball team 14 months earlier. The woman, who has not been identified, told police she had told women's coach John Miller and men's coach Billy Hahn about the alleged attack right after it happened but was discouraged by the coaches from pressing charges. ( Hahn and Miller, who both deny discouraging the victim, resigned in July 2004.) On Monday, hours before Larkai's trial was to begin, the woman decided not to go forward with the case.
By Representative Joe Barton (R., Texas), chairman of the congressional subcommittee that regulates the sports industry, a hearing on the Bowl Championship Series. Barton said there is no legislation planned, but he hopes a discussion of the BCS might lead to improvements. "Too often college football ends in sniping and controversy rather than winners and losers," said Barton, who called the system "deeply flawed." In 2003 the Senate held hearings on whether the system was biased against smaller schools but took no action.
At age 78 of cancer, former All-Star first baseman Vic Power. One of the first Hispanic players in the majors, the native of Puerto Rico was signed by the Yankees in 1952 and broke into the big leagues with the Philadelphia A's in 1954. Over the next 12 seasons, mostly with the A's, Indians and Twins, Power (above) won seven Gold Gloves and was known for a flamboyant, one-handed fielding style and for countering racism with a sense of humor. Once, while playing in the South as a minor leaguer, he was refused service by a waitress who said the restaurant didn't serve Negroes. "That's O.K.," he replied. "I don't eat Negroes."
From having tapes of his team's games reviewed by the NFL's officiating supervisors for two weeks, Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren. Coaches often send film to the league as a way of complaining about questionable calls, and the officiating office sometimes issues confidential apologies for mistakes. Last week Holmgren told reporters the league had told him that there were officiating errors made in Seattle's overtime win over the Giants on Nov. 27--and according to ESPN, the league blackballed him temporarily for going public. "I kind of messed up," Holmgren said. "What I should have said was, 'I talked to the league, but what was said was confidential.'"
German speedskater Monique Garbrecht-Enfeldt, 36, a nine-time world champion and three-time Olympian. Garbrecht-Enfeldt (right), won a silver medal in the 1,000 meters at the 2002 Games and a bronze in 1992, and in her career she broke four world records. This is her second retirement: She said she was tired of skating in 1995 but a year later decided she hadn't given the sport her full effort. Three years later she set her first world record, in the 1,000 meters. Garbrecht-Enfeldt said she stepped aside last week because she isn't ready for February's Turin Olympics.
By FIFA, plans to use a so-called "smartball" during World Cup games next year. The balls, which are embedded with a microchip, send a signal to a device on the referee's wrist if they cross the goal line. They were tested at the under-17 World Cup in Peru this year; a FIFA official said there was "room for improvement." A second test was scheduled for the World Club Championship in Japan later this month, but FIFA put that on hold until the technology can be improved. "That means it's no longer a theme for the World Cup," said FIFA president Sepp Blatter.
By Saudi Arabia's Education Ministry, exams that were scheduled to be given in the country's schools and universities during soccer's World Cup next summer. The ministry said it didn't want to ruin students' enjoyment of the tournament, which will be played in Germany, by making them study for tests; it also said that their grades were likely to suffer if they spent too much time watching TV instead of studying when games were on. The Saudis, led by Asian Player of the Year Hamad Al Montashari, will make their third consecutive trip to the World Cup finals next year.
By Clinton Portis, yet another alter ego: Reverend Gonna Change. The Redskins running back has taken to showing up for his weekly press meetings in bizarre costumes (SCORECARD, Nov. 28). With Washington in the midst of a three-game slide, Portis wanted to stop playing around, but his teammates urged him to continue. "They said we need something positive around here," he said. He said he picked his latest name because he hoped it would help the team buck its losing trend. It did. The Redskins beat the Rams 24-9 on Sunday, thanks to the all-right Reverend's 136 yards rushing and two touchdowns.