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Auction madness doesn't stop

By MARC TOPKIN, Times Staff Writer

© St. Petersburg Times
published May 19, 2002


Really, Jeff Nelson was content to let the chips fall where they may.

When the Mariners reliever had three bone chips removed from his right elbow May10, his only thoughts were about returning as quickly as possible.

But then Seattle radio talk show host Dave Mahler, still chuckling over the $10,000 someone paid for a wad of Luis Gonzalez's chewed gum, made a half-joking comment that Nelson should sell the chips in an online eBay auction to raise money for charity.

"I was just going to throw them away, but I kept thinking of Luis Gonzalez," Nelson said. "And then it took off. I'm shocked."

In less than a day, there were more than 100 bids and a top price of $23,600. But eBay officials, citing a policy prohibiting the sale of body parts (They've had people offer a kidney, a liver and one creative chap trying to sell his soul), shut the auction down.

Mahler moved the auction to his station's Web site (kjram.com). But with the spur of the moment passed, the chips were down.

With a top bid of only $1,000, the auction was extended to Thursday. Nelson plans to split the proceeds between the school his daughters attend and a fund in memory of former University of Washington football player Curtis Williams.

The whole episode, even after the auctions of Gonzalez's gum and Oakland pitcher Tim Hudson's goatee trimmings ($75), was amazing -- and entertaining.

"If you can sell bone chips," Seattle manager Lou Piniella said, "you can sell anything."

"Maybe I'm in the wrong business," said team orthopedic surgeon Larry Pedegana, who offered to sign a letter of authenticity. "Instead of removing the bone chips, I should be selling them."

Designated hitter Edgar Martinez, who had part of his hamstring tendon removed last month, said he would consider a sale if it would benefit a charity.

"We could cut it up in pieces and sell them separately," he said.

Trainer Rick Griffin had an even more potentially lucrative idea: selling Ichiro's stitches.

Nelson's sale, which (seriously!) came with the provision the chips not be used for cloning or DNA extraction, even caught the attention of Jason Gabbert, the Minnesota man who auctioned Gonzalez's gum.

"I think it's hilarious," Gabbert said. "It's scary the amount of disposable income people have."

SILENT TREATMENT: Fans favored Buck Showalter for the Royals managerial job, but players didn't want anything to do with him, fearing his reputation as a control freak and disciplinarian.

One unnamed player told general manager Allard Baird he would demand a trade if Showalter were hired. Another was anonymously quoted saying, "I don't want somebody to be checking my socks. This isn't kindergarten."

Showalter, who reportedly butted into everything in Arizona, including the brand of toilet paper in the clubhouse, said the stories were exaggerated.

Baird insisted Tony Pena was his first choice all along, but after the fiasco of Tony Muser's firing (Muser heard it first from players and reporters after team vice president George Brett reportedly leaked word), he kept it to himself.

When Baird teleconferenced with his lieutenants Sunday night to discuss the candidates, Brett wasn't included. GLENN WHO?: When Philadelphia infielder Tomas Perez took the mound in the ninth Monday, there was no one more disappointed than Glenn Wilson, who since 1987 had been the last Phillies position player to pitch in a game.

"My chances of making the Hall of Fame aren't getting any better, and now I've lost that distinction, too," Wilson said, tongue in cheek. "Now I know how Mark McGwire felt when Barry Bonds broke his home run record."

BAILING OUT: Expected to contend after the addition of Moises Alou, the Cubs have been miserable, entering the weekend on a seven-game losing streak and 11 games out.

"We're playing like it's August and we're 15 games under," Kerry Wood said. "We're playing like we're already out of it. We're dead. We're flat."

NUMBERS GAME: The Rockies, who never drew fewer than 30,000 during their first nine seasons, have had seven crowds less than that in their first 20 home games. ... In their first 27 games against teams with winning records, the Brewers went 4-25. ... The Twins have had six starters on the disabled list.

MISCELLANY: Look for the Cubs to bring up top prospect Mark Prior this week, allowing him to ease into the majors by facing the Pirates in his first two starts. ... Alabama businessman Donald Watkins, whose finances continue to be questioned, now is pursuing a deal to buy the Angels. ... Ex-Ray Herbert Perry figures to get most of the playing time at third base since the Rangers sent down heralded rookie Hank Blalock with a .200 average.

-- Information from other news organizations was used in this report.

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