Columnist gets a little punchy

Newspapers desperately are trying to connect with readers, but the Tuscaloosa (Ala.) News might be trying too hard.

It allowed columnist Christopher Walsh to step into the ring with Olympic boxer Deontay Wilder for a newspaper video segment.

Afterward, a punch-drunk Walsh reported: “Physically, I’m happy to tell you all that 48 hours after the strike the swelling below my eye has finally eased, although the right part of my mouth is still numb. Thursday night, I had problems with my short-term memory, but that too is better.”

What’s next, wrestling alligators?

OUT ON A LIMB — The Phoenix Suns and Denver Nuggets played a preseason game outdoors in Indian Wells, Calif., on Saturday. The posh tennis setting was not at all like the setting for the Suns’ previous outdoor contest.

It was in 1972 against the Milwaukee Bucks in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Fans were unruly. Humidity was stifling. Birds were distracting, and winds were gusting.

Recalled former Suns player Lamar Green to the Arizona Republic: “I hung my uniform up to dry, and the wind blew it up a tree. I had to pay a kid to climb up and get it.”

HIGH SCHOOL HEIGHTS — Kevin Reilly passed for 182 yards and rushed for 100 to lead his high school football team to victory Friday night.

Afterward he told the Anchorage (Alaska) Daily News, “I’m on top of the world right now.”

Of course he’d say that. Reilly’s team, Service High, had just upset top-ranked North Pole in a playoff semifinal, 27-12.

ICY REVIEW — A deep thought from Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle: “Sarah Palin, what a great idea having her drop the first puck at the Philadelphia Flyers’ home opener Saturday. I hear fans loved it when she chased the Zamboni and tried to bite the tires.”

CLOCKING OUT — The National Debt Clock in New York ran out of digits to record the U.S. government’s skyrocketing deficit, The Associated Press reported, when the number reached $10 trillion last week.

The only other time the clock went tilt, as locals recall, came in 2007 when it tried to add up the Yankees’ payroll.

CALL TO ARMS — From Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times: “German farmer Karl Merk, who lost both arms in a combine accident six years ago, underwent the world’s first complete double-arm transplant in Munich in late July, and surgeons are optimistic he’ll be using his hands within two years.

“Euphoria in the Mariners’ front office quickly was doused, however, when they discovered it’s not covered on the team’s medical plan.”

FLAGGING FORTUNES — Chicago fans wanting one of those White Sox or Cubs division banners that hung on street poles outside City Hall can bid on the city’s Web site, The Associated Press reported.

Pole on which to hang it at half staff not included.

WINLESS WONDERS — Headline at Fark.com: “Lions scrap no-huddle formation, go back to three-and-out offense.”

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