Mientkiewicz should take his ball and go home - then contact eBay

THE BALTIMORE SUN

IF I'M Red Sox first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz, there are a couple of things I'd do right now.

I'd change my name, of course (I mean, how do you go through life trying to spell that every time you want to use your debit card at Taco Bell), and I would throw that World Series ball on eBay so fast it would make Larry Lucchino's head spin.

Of course, when Larry was here running the Orioles, I once accused him of being able to turn his head completely around like Linda Blair did in The Exorcist, but that's another story. He's really not a bad guy, but he's dead wrong about this.

The last-out ball from the historic 2004 World Series might look nice in some Fenway Park museum display, but the Red Sox can make no legitimate case that it belongs to them. The final game took place at Busch Stadium, so the Cardinals would have a better argument for claiming it than the Sox.

Lucchino tried to guilt-trip Mientkiewicz by leaning on the "historic nature" of the souvenir and his obligation to "share" it with Red Sox fans, but that isn't going to fly either.

Mientkiewicz has about a century's-worth of tradition on his side, but I think he should find a way to turn this into a win-win situation. I think he should put the ball up for auction and commit 70 percent of the proceeds (less auction fees) to the various tsunami relief charities.

The interest generated by the gesture - and the opportunity for some organization or wealthy individual to get a ton of great publicity by paying a big price - will inflate the value of the ball to the point where Mientkiewicz might get as much for 30 percent of it as he would have by selling it entirely for his own benefit.

And I wouldn't be surprised if the benefactor ended up donating it or loaning it to the Red Sox for display.

Got a raft of e-mail from Texas Longhorns fans this week, charging that I'm anti-Horn because of my assertion last Sunday that Texas looked more out of place at the Rose Bowl "than Sidney Ponson at the Enoch Pratt Library."

It wasn't personal. The University of Texas is a hallowed institution that numbers Sun sports editor Randy Harvey among the thousands of alumni who ignore its fund-raising letters, so it can't be all bad. The Longhorns played a fantastic game and their fans were terrific, but I think the Horns belong in the Cotton Bowl on New Year's Day if they're not playing for the national championship.

What are the odds? I go to the West Coast for a couple of bowl games and end up stranded briefly in Los Angeles because Interstate 5 - in supposedly sunny Southern California - had to be closed because of heavy snow in the local mountains.

Meanwhile, I'm getting regular reports from a very irritating woman in Maryland that temperatures here are in the 60s and 70s and everybody is out sunbathing. I hope you all enjoyed your little Indian Summer, because you're going to pay for it while I'm at spring training.

The good news is that the wife will have to be on her best behavior now that Jennifer Aniston is back on the market. ... The bad news is that Mickey Rooney's 80-year-old butt is, too.

Let me join the David Steele Chorus and encourage the Ravens to make a real play for USC offensive coordinator Norm Chow. They probably won't go to the Super Bowl next year, but Kyle Boller just might win the Heisman.

Seriously, though, the Ravens already have former Cal State Fullerton head coach Jim Colletto on the coaching staff and Chow is from my equally beloved USC, so I'd be walking on sunshine.

Upon further review, it turns out there was a wardrobe malfunction during Ashlee Simpson's grating halftime performance at the Orange Bowl. Justin Timberlake inadvertently forgot to show up and stuff a sock in her mouth.

It was a tough night for Ashlee, considering that she was the most unpopular Simpson at Pro Player Stadium, and there were rumors that O.J. was in the stands.

Orioles owner Peter Angelos must be kicking himself for not thinking outside the box like new Angels owner Arte Moreno, who last week changed the name of his team to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Angelos might have prevented the Expos from moving to D.C. if he had thought to change the name of his team to the Washington Orioles of Baltimore who play at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

The Anaheim City Council, as part of the breach-of-contract lawsuit it filed on Wednesday to revoke the Angels name change, charges that the new name is "nonsensical."

I have to agree. Literally translated from partial Spanish into complete English, The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim means The The Angels Angels of Anaheim.

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