What's old is new for Jeff Gordon

News item: Four-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Jeff Gordon has entered into a new sponsorship deal with the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP).

My take: The move is part of a big change in strategy for the Gordon racing team. From now on, he's going to drive 30 mph and not let anybody pass him.

News item: Injured receiver Donte' Stallworth could be ready to play when the Ravens return to the field next week.

My take: The offensive chemistry experiment continues. The arrival of a speedy downfield threat would give offensive coordinator Cam Cameron all sorts of new options and make all of the Ravens' playmakers more dangerous.

News item: San Francisco 49ers quarterback Alex Smith is sidelined for several weeks with a separated shoulder, so former Raven Troy Smith will start this weekend's game against the Denver Broncos in London.

My take: It's a great — albeit temporary — opportunity for the former Heisman Trophy winner, who missed his chance to start for the Ravens two years ago because of that nasty bout with tonsillitis. Maybe there will be a karmic transference and the injury to Alex Smith will somehow re-open the door that was closed to Troy in Baltimore.

News item: The free-agent signing period could begin as soon as next weekend, depending on the length of the World Series.

My take: Is it a bad sign that the Yankees just opened a home equity line of credit on their new stadium?

News item: Baseball commissioner Bud Selig said during his annual meeting with the Baseball Writers Association of America that he is open to expanding the playoffs — perhaps as soon as next year.

My take: Obviously, $6.5 billion in annual revenues isn't going to cut it. I guess baseball owners won't be satisfied until they go full NBA.

News item: Brett Favre's injured ankle could bring an end to his record string of 291 consecutive NFL starts.

My take: I'll believe that when I see it. The guy may have morphed into a diva with poor cell phone habits over the past couple years, but that streak is as amazing as Cal Ripken's. Maybe more.

News item: The superhyped Miami Heat scored just nine points in the first quarter and lost their nationally televised season opener to the Boston Celtics Tuesday night.

My take: It was a very satisfying evening for the new generation of Heat haters that were spawned by the "The Decision" and its obnoxious afterparty, but it didn't mean a thing. The Heat are going to be as good as advertised.

News item: The New York Times reported this week that San Francisco Giants outfielder Jose Guillen is linked to a federal investigation into illegal shipments of Human Growth Hormone.

My take: This is just more evidence that illegal performance enhancement is alive and well in Major League Baseball (and other high-profile sports), which ultimately will lead to the imposition of blood testing for HGH at the major league level, but not without a fight from the players union.

News item: Barry Bonds told reporters at the World Series this week that he hopes to return to baseball at some point as a major league hitting coach.

My take: Hope that works out better than the last time he tried to copy Mark McGwire.

News item: In a sad footnote to the recent World Cup, Paul the Octopus — who became world famous for correctly predicting the outcome of each of Germany's matches — has died at an aquarium in Germany.

My take: I have to believe he saw it coming.

peter.schmuck@baltsun.com

Listen to Peter Schmuck on WBAL (1090 AM) at noon Fridays and Saturdays and at 6 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays with Brett Hollander. Also, check out his blog, "The Schmuck Stops Here," at baltimoresun.com/schmuckblog.

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