tampabay.com

The buzz

By Times Staff Writer
Published January 2, 2005


WHO'S HOT

Coming to an NFL postseason not near you: It's the X-Bucs!

Banished from Tampa Bay by the dastardly duo of Gruden and Allen, these superheroes have resurfaced elsewhere with stronger powers and renewed energy. Rich McKay, possessing the ability to juggle the salary cap and acquire talent, and sidekick Warrick Dunn have a Super Bowl contender in Atlanta. Tony Dungy has devised an unstoppable offensive machine in Indianapolis. Keenan McCardell and his steel-clawed hands are part of the NFL's feel-good story in San Diego. John Lynch, able to leap (and knock over) tall receivers in a single bound, is Pro Bowl bound.

They are strong. They are determined. They are the X-Bucs.

WHO'S NOT

Let's see if we have this right. The Devil Rays don't finish last for the first time in history and, so far, their two biggest offseason moves are picking up two part-timers who spent most of last season playing for the one team they finished ahead of? We know they don't have the dough to keep up with the Yankees and Red Sox, but adding Josh Phelps and Kevin Cash (from, yes, the last-place Blue Jays) is a far cry from all the big talk the Rays were slinging when the offseason started.

TABLOID HEADLINE OF THE WEEK

Bowling for Palestine: http://www.nypost.com/seven/

12232004/index.shtml Bowling is a sport ... isn't it? NEWS OF THE WEIRD

New Orleans punter/kicker Mitch Berger was nearly injured before a recent victory over the Cowboys when Rowdy, Dallas' ridiculous mascot with the goofy grin, tried to block a kickoff during pregame warmups. Berger landed funny then got, uh, Rowdy.

"I started smacking the guy in the head," Berger said. "I yelled a few expletives at him, and he's screaming back at me under his (costume). I tried to rip his head off and throw it, but I couldn't get it off. The referee saw it all, but what's he going to do? Throw a flag?"

NEWS OF THE WEIRD PART II

A new low for the male sex? You be the judge. Hasmawi Hassan, the star striker of a Malaysian state soccer team, has been fired for failing to turn up for his own wedding. Even better (or worse depending on your point of view), a newspaper report says he called off the ceremony in a cell phone text message to his fiancee just hours before they were to exchange vows. About 1,000 people had been waiting at the bride's home. The league vice president said Hassan's two-year contract would be terminated because his behavior had tarnished the state's image.

FAKE HEADLINE OF THE WEEK

From www.sportspickle.com: FedEx Orange Bowl Secures Naming Rights to Fans' Firstborn.

- Information from Times wires was used in this report.