Speed Read: Sleazy Vick, Caylee Dolls Draw Suit

I think I’ve found the world’s worst person: his name is Jaime Salcedo, and he’s the owner of Showbiz Productions in Jacksonville, FL. He first made a name for himself by selling the “Vick Chew Toy,” which is not related to the one the St. Paul Saints gave away. In fact, if you read the fine print at the toy’s Web site, it’s not even Michael Vick at all. Crazy how someone could get that idea, right? Check out the promotional video for yourself:

So while the toy and it’s cutting-edge “dog material” might be an overpriced, one-note joke aimed at making a quick buck, it’s not really horrible. Now, creating a doll based on a toddler who was gruesomely killed by her mother, that would be hideous. Folks, let me introduce you to the “Sunshine Caylee Doll,” also a creation from the monstrous kitchens of Showbiz Productions, meant to be a “tribute” to slain Florida two-year-old Caylee Anthony.

Caylee doll

Of course, as Salcedo told Fox News, he wanted to be sensitive to Anthony’s memory, so he made sure the doll had little resemblance to her - even if it did play her favorite song “You Are My Sunshine” when you pressed its stomach. After all, making the doll look like Anthony would be “too morbid.

But Salcedo wanted to make sure everyone knew he wasn’t a heartless slime trying to make money exploiting dead toddlers and mangled dogs. He was also a philanthropist, pledging to donate portions of the sales of the Vick Chew Toy to local animal shelters and $5,000 from the sales of the Sunshine Caylee Doll to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

Well, Salcedo did make a donation to that last group: for a grand total of $10. And it seems evident that no donations were made to local animal shelters from sales of the Vick doll. So not only was Salcedo making money off of products in horrible taste, but he was pulling a big grift by using charity donations that never happened to support sales.

Finally, someone is doing something about it: the JACKSONVILLE TIMES-UNION says the Florida Attorney General’s office is suing Salcedo for $20,000 for making false advertising claims, and seeking an injunction against further sales of the dolls. Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum said that using a respected organization such as the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children as a front makes things even more reprehensible:

“Any company that intentionally misleads innocent consumers to believe they are contributing to worthy charitable causes is absolutely reprehensible,” he said. “It is disgusting that a company would exploit a tragic situation for personal gain.”

Of course, when you consider that Salcedo himself estimates that he sold at least 200,000 Michael Vick dolls at $7.77 each (grossing more than $1,500,000), a $20,000 fine feels like a slap on the wrist. I know times are tough, but the people of Jacksonville can’t band together and find the time and money to get the supplies needed for a good old fashioned tar and feathering? I’ll even chip in and by the first barrel of tar.

Crowds at the Masters

Meanwhile, there wasn’t much going wrong on Thursday during the first round of The Masters, unless you consider the appalling traffic. Despite assurances by government officials that the kinks that led to significant traffic snarls at the beginning of the week had been worked out, the AUGUSTA CHRONICLE says that traffic was even worse for the opening round, leading to headaches such as a local doctor having to run three-quarters of a mile to make a speaking engagement at the course.

At least it was perfect weather for a run, and also for shooting a low score: it was the second-lowest scoring first round in tournament history. The Day One leader is Chad Campbell, who set a tournament record with birdies on his first five holes and flirted with history before back-to-back closing bogies left him at 65, one stroke ahead of Hunter Mahan and Jim Furyk.

How crazy was the scoring on Thursday? If Phil Mickelson had shot 73 in last year’s first round, he would have been tied for 29th, five shots off the lead. Instead, he starts today tied for 51st, looking at an eight shot deficit. Even the over-50 crowd was getting into the scoring act: Larry Mize sits in a tie for fourth after a 67, while the group at 70 includes Greg Norman and Bernhard Langer.

Also firing a two-under: Tiger Woods, who probably could have been near the top of the leaderboard if one of five or six putts go in instead of burning the lip of the cup. The other main contender we previewed yesterday, Padraig Harrington, also had a quietbut efficient round, going one lower than Woods. Even Gary Player, in his final Masters, shot a respectable 78. In fact, every player broke 80 except for New Zealander Michael Campbell, who must feel great that even Craig Stadler’s portly butt beat him by three shots.

Finally, Andrew Bynum’s comeback from a knee injury might not be on par (get it?) with Tiger Woods’, but it couldn’t come at a better time for the Los Angeles Lakers. The LOS ANGELES TIMES reports that Bynum looked comfortable and healthy in his return after missing 32 games from a torn MCL, racking up 16 points and seven rebounds in just 21 minutes as the Lakers blew past the Nuggets, 116-102. Which begs the question: Could his injury actually have been a break for the Lakers, as their center is now rested and not worn down by the rigors of a long regular season?

  • A few weeks ago, we told you about the Fifth-Third, a 4,800 calorie, four-pound burger that is the new entry at the concession stands at West Michigan Whitecaps games. CNBC says that the gut-buster made its debut last night, with 107 of them being sold. Of the 32 people who tried to eat the whole thing, 17 were successful. Lord, I don’t want to know what the toilets looked like around the seventh inning stretch.
  • darren rovell fifth third burger

    (CNBC’s Darren Rovell ponders the glory of the Fifth Third Burger)

  • LOCKDOWN CORNER says that former Green Bay Packers lineman Syd Kitson is trying to create the world’s most environmentally-friendly city somewhere in Florida. In true Green Bay style, everything is either powered by sharp cheddar cheese, or the light shining off of the still-brilliant aura of Brett Favre.
  • Syracuse basketball looks to take a bit hit next year, as the AUBURN CITIZEN says that Jonny Flynn, Eric Devendorf and Paul Harris will all enter their names into the NBA Draft. Also looking to flee for the pro game: UCLA’s Jrue Holiday, Wake Forest’s James Johnson and Miami’s Dwayne Collins.
  • Speaking of drafts, about the only thing the WNBA does right is take advantage of the one-week period right after the NCAA title game when people still remember that women’s basketball exists to hold their draft. The No. 1 pick? Louisville’s Angel McCoughtry, to the Atlanta Dream.
  • Remember the kerfuffle caused when Teresa Earnhardt refused to let her stepson Dale Earnhardt Jr. take his No. 8 with him when he left DEI to go to Hendrick Motorsports? I guess karma really is a … you know. FOX SPORTS says the No. 8 car will be permanently parked, as DEI has had to shut down operations on Aric Almirola’s team because of a lack of sponsors.
  • The person I would least expect to be in a Twitter controversy is Joe Paterno, who probably thinks that’s what happens when your pacemaker gets to close to a microwave. But ESPN.COM says his son Jay might have inadvertantly spilled the beans that the Big Ten is banning night games in November, meaning the Penn St./Ohio St. tilt will be played in the afternoon.
  • Yesterday’s least-surprising arrest had to be that of volatile former NBA guard Vernon Maxwell. The GAINESVILLE SUN says he was arrested in Florida Wednesday morning and charged with a probation violation stemming from failure to pay child support.
  • BALL DON’T LIE has the gripping story not coming to Broadway next fall: “Nellieball: The Musical.” Much like Don Nelson’s teams, it starts off promising but runs out of steam by the final act and falls apart.
  • Last time we heard about Nebraska tight end Hunter Teafatiller, he was having a party thrown in his “honor” as he was preparing to go to jail on a DUI charge. I guess it’s time to make another keg run in Lincoln, because the AP says he’s been arrested again, this time for driving on a suspended license.
  • Dan Hawkins wants you to know that not only is Colorado football not intramurals, brother, but it’s not a place for your cell phones and cameras. The COLORADO SPRINGS GAZETTE says the school has closed practices because of too much information floating around the Internet.

Which 2008 cellar dwellar has the best chance to be this year’s Tampa Bay Rays?

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Speed Read: Phillies Fans Boo Ring Ceremony?!

Congratulations, Philadelphia sports fans, you’ve done it again. Nothing on the lines of booing Santa Claus or cheering Michael Irvin’s career-ending neck injury, but booing during the team’s World Series ring celebration? That’s pretty impressive. As the PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS reports, the recipient of Phillies’ fans hatred was former starting pitcher Adam Eaton, as you can see in this video clip (you’ll hear the “You Suck” starting raining down at around 2:45):

Let’s face it: Eaton was hardly a key contributor to the Phillies’ World Series run. He went 4-8 last season with a 5,80 ERA,  and was left off of the postseason roster before being cut this spring. And yes, the Phillies are still on the hook for his contract to the tune of $9 million this season, so you can understand why he’s hardly the favorite son of Phillies fans.

Adam Eaton gets his World Series ring

But booing someone at the ring ceremony? Isn’t that supposed to be just about the most positive thing that can happen at a sporting event - the recognition of an amazing team accomplishment regardless of what any individual did. Pat Burrell, now with the Rays, flew in for the ceremony and received a hero’s welcome. As BIG LEAGUE STEW notes, even So Taguchi got a World Series ring.

Plus, the guy showed a sense of humor about the whole thing, acting like he was Neil Armstrong getting a ticker tape parade down Broadway. Personally, I would have been waving to the crowd, but just with one, middle finger. I guess $9 million for doing nothing and a shiny World Series ring can bring a guy a lot of inner peace.

Meanwhile, there’s a battle starting today for a prize even more tacky than a World Series ring but just as coveted: the green jacket awarded to the winner of The Masters. There’s no guarantee of who will be having the green jacket placed on them by defending champion Trevor Immelman on Sunday (unless Immelman repeats…now, excuse me while I find a rag to clean up the Orange Crush I spit out of my mouth from laughing while typing that),  there is one thing for sure: everyone hates the new course design.

GOLF.COM has a lengthy preview featuring golf writers and anonymous pros, and everyone takes a shot at the new course design, saying that it’s “not Tiger-proofed, it’s excitement-proofed” and that they’ve “sucked the life out of the tournament.” The par-5s are too long to reach in two for anyone, meaning it’s an exciting battle of wedges and midrange putting.

Gary Player

The three names at the top of the list as winners are: Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Padraig Harrington. One name not on the list of contenders is Gary Player, but there will some attention on him for the first two days: at 73, he’s playing in his 52nd and final Masters tournament. There will be some tears shed when he finishes his round on Friday, but there likely won’t be an emotional outpouring by the fans/patrons like we’ve seen in the past for Jack Nicklaus or Arnold Palmer.

And that’s too bad: Player has been a remarkable ambassador for the sport, whose fame in the US was damaged by being South African at a time when that was considered shameful, and not being quite as good as Jack or Arnie (or even as charismatic as Lee Trevino). But he won nine majors in his career, including three Masters, and did more than any other player in the 1960s and 1970s to make golf an international game.

Plus, he’s been a remarkable philanthropist, rising more than $30 million for his Player Foundation building school in South Africa. So let’s all give a polite golf clap to the Black Knight as he gets ready to head off into the sunset.

Finally, CAGEWRITER says that among the hopeful contestants at the open tryouts for Season 10 of Spike TV’s “The Ultimate Fighter” were several former NFL players. Among those trying to get into the house this season were former Bucs first round draft pick Marcus Jones, former Colts lineman Rex Richards and former Packers running back/returner Herbert Goodman. This season is focusing on heavyweights, so sadly Johnnie Morton couldn’t use this as a way to spark an MMA comeback.

  • Usually athlete blogs are about as exciting as reading hog futures, but the one by Chantelle Anderson of the WNBA’s Atlanta Dream is pretty interesting (arguably more so than WNBA games). Her latest post details her internal debate on whether to post a bathing suit photo on her Web site, and the relationship of sports and sex appeal. Personally, I’d vote “yes” on seeing more skin from her:
  • Chantelle Anderson

  • It might take Randy Johnson quite some time to get to 300 wins if he keeps giving up three-run bombs to pitchers, like the SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS say he did to Yovani Gallardo, as the Big Unit’s Giants debut was a 4-2 loss to the Brewers.
  • In possibly the least-shocking off-season NFL news this year, a Cincinnati Bengal was arrested Sunday morning. The CINCINNATI ENQUIRER says that Leon Hall, who led the team in interceptions last season, has been charged with a DUI after hitting a 0.15 BA level. Bonus points: he tried to convince the officer that he needed to get home because his wife was having a baby.
  • The TREASURE COAST PALM say police in Port St. Lucie, FL, are looking for a man who ran naked across the outfield at a youth baseball game before hopping the fence and getting into a waiting car. Man claiming to be umpire at game says suspect got “hung up” on fence. Ouch!
  • An interesting item from the ASU WEB DEVIL, a student publication of Arizona State: a Sun Devil football player had his wallet stolen from his locker at Sun Devil Stadium, losing around $270. (The story is halfway down.) Not only do I want to know what a student-athlete is doing with almost $300 in walking around money, but now we know why James Harden is leaving ASU for the NBA Draft (that, and millions of dollars).
  • Also declaring for the NBA Draft last night: USC freshman DeMar DeRozan, Pittsburgh center DeJuan Blair and Arizona’s mercurial Jordan Hill.
  • Dustin Pedroia probably shouldn’t expect to be getting the keys to his hometown any time soon, after the SACRAMENTO BEE says he dissed Woodland, CA in a magazine interview, saying it’s “a dump. You can quote me on that. I don’t give a …” I’m sure this has nothing to do with the fact that his brother was arrested on child molestation charges there in January.
  • Only in Australia: NINE NEWS says that the entire North Melbourne Kangaroos Aussie Rules Football team had to appear at a press conference to apologize for a video they made showing a condom-wearing rubber chicken having sex with a chicken carcass. And yes, of course we have the video (caution, NSFW due to graphic song lyrics and simulated rubber chicken on chicken sex):

  • In European soccer news, Chelsea ripped Liverpool 3-1 in their Champions League quarterfinal, which THE TIMES OF LONDON says makes them an overwhelming favorite to get to the semifinals again. If so, they’ll likely play Barcelona, who thumped Bayern Munich 4-0.
  • THE SPORTING BLOG wants you to know that you should never criticize the Hillsdale College baseball team, even if they’ve lost nine of their last ten games. Lest you wind up with a mound of dead animal carcasses on your front door, the fate that befell an unwitting writer at the college newspaper.

Who would you take with the first pick in the 2009 NBA Draft?

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