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Bean ball

Sports | Jose Mesa is three-for-three in hitting former teammate Omar Vizquel

Issue: "A few good men," May 6, 2006

San Francisco Giants infielder Omar Vizquel must wish Colorado pitcher Jose Mesa would try to kill him more softly. Baseball's most heated feud got a bit hotter in April when the Giants traveled to Colorado to play the Rockies. There, for the third time since 2002 when the infielder penned a book slamming Mr. Mesa's performance in the 1997 World Series, Mr. Vizquel stepped into the batter's box against the hard-throwing reliever. And just like the two previous times, Mr. Vizquel got to first with a fastball in his back.

How did Mr. Vizquel offend Mr. Mesa? In his book, Omar! My Life on and off the Field, Mr. Vizquel blamed his then-teammate for collapsing in the 9th inning of Game 7 against the Florida Marlins in 1997. "The eyes of the world were focused on every move we made," Mr. Vizquel wrote in his 2002 autobiography. "Unfortunately, Jose's own eyes were vacant. Completely empty. Nobody home."

Folks could have expected the hard-throwing right-hander to be miffed. Mr. Mesa was beyond that, though. "I will not forgive him," Mr. Mesa told reporters after the book was released. "Even my little boy (Jose Jr.) told me to get him. If I face him 10 more times, I'll hit him 10 times. Every time. I want to kill him." Mr. Mesa has repeated the death threats.

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What do you do when an opposing pitcher has a mid-90s fastball and a stated goal to kill you? "He's three for three," said Mr. Vizquel of his nemesis's goal of hitting him in every at-bat. "I'm a little tired of it. It's just stupid that he can still remember and still hold that grudge. There's not much you can do but charge the mound." But Mr. Vizquel says he won't go that route, even if the beanings continue. Good thing, too. Mr. Mesa pledged to kill the infielder if he makes a move on the mound.

Mr. Vizquel stayed cool when he received his latest plunking from Mr. Mesa on April 22. His team took a different approach, though. The day after Mr. Mesa renewed his feud, the two teams escalated it, beaning a total of four batters, which resulted in five ejections. "Whoever is in charge of stopping it better stop it and stop it soon. Because we play 15 more games," said Giants manager Felipe Alou, incensed. The Rockies and Giants (and possibly Mr. Vizquel and Mr. Mesa) face off again for a three-game series beginning on May 26.

Around the Horn

New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner has a good thing going. In its most recent sports franchise valuations, Forbes pegged the pinstripers' worth at $1.026 billion-the most valuable team in baseball. The figure makes the Yankees the fourth most valuable franchise in sports, surpassed only by three NFL teams: the Washington Redskins ($1.26 billion), the Dallas Cowboys ($1.06 billion), and the New England Patriots ($1.04 billion).

Imagine it: An Olympic Games without soccer. It wouldn't be very international, but if FIFA isn't willing to change its doping rules, the game could get the boot in 2008. A European court declared in April that the world governing body for soccer wasn't compliant with World Anti-Doping Agency regulations to stem the tide of steroid use in athletics. And though WADA regulations are not binding by law, the rules must be adopted for Olympic participation.

Third Clausen's a charm? Notre Dame head football coach Charlie Weis demonstrated the power of recruiting when he chose to forgo a trip to see a graduating senior and instead paid a visit to what most call 2007's top recruiting target: California prep school quarterback Jimmy Clausen, the younger brother of former Tennessee quarterbacks Rick and Casey Clausen. It paid off, too. Mr. Clausen verbally committed in April to play for the Fighting Irish after he graduates high school-next year.

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