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I nod toward the refrigerator, call out, "No food, bucko." Frank turns around, disappointed. I pour two cups of coffee, hand one to guest, take the other, and sit down at my desk. "You know how there are some articles they post on the Internet and some they hold back for subscribers?"

"Yeah."

"This one is held back."

I'm talking to an old friend, who is a big deal in somebody's IT department, about an article in Sports Illustrated. The piece is about the horse-racing industry, and the point of it is, despite constant sniveling by aforementioned equine consortium -- a news blockade by corporate sports reporters, scary customers, and shabby public areas found in many race tracks -- horse racing is making very good money; horse tycoons are doing as well as any other kind of tycoon. I had thought the opposite.

Now, Frank has a long-distance, longtime friend named Beth Shannon who lives in Lexington, Kentucky. She's born and bred unto the 200th year in Kentucky and is as enraptured over thoroughbred horses and horse racing as a good Kentucky girl should be. After work she volunteers at Old Friends, a retirement-and-rescue facility for old thoroughbreds who would otherwise be sold and butchered for whatever it is they sell and butcher old thoroughbreds for.

I still remember a conversation I had with her two years back. I asked how she could be so passionate about racehorses who only had a two-year, ten-race career. She said, "For us, it's not a horse who's here for two years and then disappears after he sprained an ankle. These horses are around with us for years. They breed, and we follow their lineages. They're not flash-in-the-pan to us. They come back and stay and live with us for decades and decades."

Since then, anything interesting that comes my way about horse racing, I'll pass on to Beth, usually through Frank.

Back to the problem of getting the SI horse-industry story to Beth. Frank is lamenting the lack of Internet access to every last fact or thought humanity ever had. "I could scan it," Frank says. "Yes, I could do that. Scan it, save it as .doc file, and e-mail it to her." Full stop. We have inspiration followed by a celebratory smile. Frank's found a faster way. "Or, I could throw it on the HP and fax it to her. That would work."

Isn't it nice to have so many choices in this modern world we live in? I should add that the printer he's referring to is a $6000 color laser everything with fax modem.

I say, "Frank, how about this? It's a one-page story. Rip the page out of the magazine, fold it, slide it into an envelope, and mail it to her. Like they did in olden days."

* * *

Did you see the photo of Joe Torre being introduced to the press as the new L.A. Dodgers manager? Joe's got his business suit on minus the jacket. He's wearing a television-blue shirt and executive tie under a Dodgers jersey and blue Dodgers baseball cap. He looks like the village idiot or a pitchman hawking Arkansas lakefront lots on 4:00 a.m. television. This is an East Coast guy. I foresee an unhappy marriage.

* * *

Who goes first? The Washington Post reports, "Coach Andy Reid says Monday he has no plans to bench a struggling Donovan McNabb, nor will he step down in the wake of family issues."

It's hard to believe Philadelphia went to the playoffs last season. Of course, they were led there by then-backup-quarterback Jeff Garcia. Garcia was allowed to leave during the off-season and is now starting for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Bucs are leading the NFC South Division.

Philly stayed with quarterback Donovan McNabb, who fumbled and threw two interceptions Sunday night on the way to a 38-17 molestation by the Cowboys. The score hides the worst aspect of the game, to wit: the deer-in-the- headlights look McNabb wore throughout the contest. This is a man who is not ready to play NFL football.

The week prior to the big game, Coach Reid's two sons were sentenced to jail time in a Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, courtroom. Reid took a day off from work to be there.

His sons were driving while high on heroin. They were dealing drugs out of Reid's house. The judge said Reid's castle was a "drug emporium" and that there was no structure in the home.

This tells you what Reid thinks of his family. He doesn't think of his family. A lot of people are lousy parents, but this sounds like Reid has been living in a motel for the past 15 years.

Sporting Box from previous weeks

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