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Wednesday, September 11, 2002
A new perspective in sports? Hardly

By Jim Caple
Page 2 columnist

Today marks the one-year anniversary of the horrific Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, D.C. Throughout the nation, we will solemnly reflect on how Sept. 11 profoundly changed us and forced us to re-evaluate our priorities.

Meanwhile ...

Barry Bonds
As Barry Bonds circled the bases after hitting No. 73, the battle over his record home run ball was just beginning.
The fan who initially caught and then lost Barry Bonds' 73rd home run in a mad crush is suing the fan who wound up with it, demanding the return of the ball allegedly worth $1 million to $2 million. In a Sports Illustrated story, the parties drew parallels to Japanese internment camps and Nazi labor camps.

Meanwhile ...

The fan who caught Bonds' 600th home run allegedly reneged on his pregame verbal promise to split the proceeds from the baseball's sale with friends. Those same friends filed a lawsuit against him to get their cut.

Meanwhile ...

Ted Williams' children are fighting over whether the Hall of Famer's body should be frozen or cremated. The children also have sued each other over the possession of 2,000 bats autographed by the late player.

Meanwhile ...

Hootie Johnson
Hootie Johnson and the members of Augusta National aren't extending any goodwill toward women.
Augusta National chairperson Hootie Johnson said that The Masters will cut all sponsors and have the tournament broadcast without commercials rather than accept women members into the exclusive golf club.

Meanwhile ...

Consumer advocate and former presidential candidate Ralph Nader sent a letter to David Stern three months ago demanding that the NBA commissioner review the officiating in Game 6 of the Western Conference finals.

Meanwhile ...

Just days after his team lost on the final play of a game at Michigan after having too many players on the field following the timeout he called, Washington football coach Rick Neuheisel received a six-year contract extension worth almost $12 million. Even so, Neuheisel would not categorically guarantee that he will remain with the Huskies for the entire contract.

Meanwhile ...

Paula Jones and Tonya Harding
This isn't a fight against one of Bubba's girls. This is serious boxing.
After signing a $75 million contract last year, Randy Moss dogged it on the field and told reporters he plays only when he wants to play. The league fined him $25,000 for three taunting incidents, and the team fined him $15,000 for verbally abusing team sponsors. Heading into this season, he was still telling reporters he'll still do what he wants.

Meanwhile ...

Fans paid $54.95 to watch convicted rapist Mike Tyson fight Lennox Lewis in June, but the highest ratings for boxing were when an estimated 15.5 million viewers tuned in to watch "celebrity" matches among such has-beens as Danny Partridge, Greg Brady and Tonya Harding.

Meanwhile ...

Just months after re-acquiring the stadium naming rights from ethically and financially bankrupt Enron, the Houston Astros re-sold them to a juice company for more than $100 million. Despite the recession, the Houston Texans opened their first season in a stadium named for an energy company that is paying $10 million a year for 30 years for the honor. And back in April, one collector paid $10,000 for bubble gum that Luis Gonzalez chewed and spat on the dugout floor.

Meanwhile ...

U.S. flag
Our playing fields have featured hundreds of ceremonies to reflect on the tragedies ... but that doesn't mean we've changed.
After arguing all summer, baseball's owners and players went to the very last minute, before finally agreeing to a new contract that slightly alters the way the parties divide up the league's $3.5 billion annual revenues. The agreement avoided another season-threatening strike by players earning an average of $2.4 million in a sport that is considered the National Pastime and is frequently described by baseball commissioner Bud Selig as "a social institution."

Meanwhile ...

With the season still intact there will be a moment of silence for Sept. 11 at all baseball games tonight. Aside from such occasional moments, the world of sports is remarkably unchanged one year after the attacks.

The question is whether that is a good thing or a bad thing.

Jim Caple is a senior writer for ESPN.com. He can be reached at cuffscaple@hotmail.com.