Fingerless Canseco Gives Comic Relief Amid Scandals: Sports Line

Just when sports is stuck in a morass of soccer scandals and deflated footballs, along comes the latter-day clown prince of baseball to provide comic relief.

Jose Canseco, who hit 462 home runs and wrote a book about how steroids helped him do it, will attempt to play all nine positions on the field during a two-day stint with the Sonoma Stompers this weekend. The Stompers will celebrate by passing out foam hands to fans minus half the middle finger -- the former slugger accidentally shot it off last year.

Canseco, 50, was cleaning his gun last October when it discharged and took off a piece of the middle finger on his left hand. The missing digit was re-attached in surgery, but two weeks later comedian Canseco Tweeted that it fell off during a poker tournament. “I put my finger in the freezer anyone want finger appetizers?”

Just kidding, he said later.

Canseco was a six-time All-Star and the 1988 American League Most Valuable Player during a 17-year MLB career that started with the Oakland Athletics and included a 2000 stint with the New York Yankees. He and fellow performance-enhancing drug user Mark McGwire were Oakland’s Bash Brothers, and combined for 346 home runs in the five seasons from 1987 to 1991. Canseco’s 2005 book detailed his steroid use in baseball; McGwire later admitted using them.

Since his retirement, Canseco has tried boxing and mixed martial arts as well as hanging around the periphery of professional baseball. He will participate in a home-run derby before Saturday’s game against four Stompers players and two fans. It’s not exactly the double-jointed rubbery-faced skits of Max Patkin, the most recent Clown Prince of Baseball who appeared in “Bull Durham” and died in 1999, but it has humor potential.

Canseco will be helping the Stompers fill their park, said general manager Theo Fightmaster. The team averages about 300 fans a game, and Fightmaster told Sports Line the club has sold all its reserved seats for both nights of Canseco Weekend -- Arnold Field has about 300 grandstand spots, half of which are premium seats, and 1,000 in the outfield bleachers that cost $4 apiece.

“Not just the ticket sales, but every person in the ballpark comes, buys food, beer and maybe a hat or a T-shirt,” Fightmaster said in an e-mail. “To put it in perspective, this weekend we’ll gross about 2-3 times what we did on an average night last season.”

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FIFA’s corruption scandal has dealt a blow to sponsorship for the World Cup, according to a company that put a value on such deals for the 2014 tournament in Brazil.

“In 2014, those rights were worth approximately $500 million in cash, or a value to the brand of about $5 billion,” Weston Anson, chairman of La Jolla, California-based CONSOR Intellectual Asset Management, told Sports Line in an interview. “That’s been cut by roughly 40 percent, cutting expected cash flow to $300 million and value to brand in the long term to about $3 billion.”

Major sponsors such as Visa Inc. and Coca-Cola Co. pressured FIFA, soccer’s governing body, for reforms after U.S. prosecutors outlined years of alleged corruption at the highest levels of the organization. Visa said it would review its sponsorship if changes weren’t made, and Coca-Cola praised the resignation of FIFA President Sepp Blatter and called for more reforms.

The stain of the ongoing investigation certainly won’t help FIFA as it seeks replacements for sponsors that didn’t renew agreements after the 2014 World Cup: companies such as Sony Corp., Emirates Airline, BP Plc’s Castrol oil brand, Johnson & Johnson and tire maker Continental AG.

“It’s going to be difficult,” Anson said. “There’s a lot of negative chatter. This scandal has been brewing for at least eight years. While some football fans say they don’t care, consumers do, more and more.”

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Usain Bolt will race in New York for the first time in seven years when he competes in the 200 meters Saturday at the Adidas Grand Prix at Icahn Stadium on Randall’s Island.

Bolt, 28, who set his first world record in the 100 meters of 9.72 seconds at the New York meet in 2008, has gone on to win six Olympic gold medals and lower his record in the 100 to 9.58 seconds.

The Jamaican also holds the world record in the 200 meters at 19.19 seconds. He won his only previous 200-meter race this season, finishing in 20.13 on May 26 in the Czech Republic.

Bolt plans to compete at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio and said he’ll retire after the 2017 world championships in London.

The Randall’s Island meet is the seventh stop on the annual international Diamond League circuit.

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Spots in the 2016 Summer Games are on the line as the U.S. men and women rugby sevens squads compete this weekend at the 2015 North American Caribbean Rugby Association Championships in Cary, North Carolina.

The winning men’s and women’s teams at the two-day tournament automatically qualify for the Rio Games, where the seven-person version of rugby will make its Olympic debut.

It will be the first time since 1924 that any version of rugby has been included in an Olympics, and the first time women’s rugby has been played at the Summer Games.

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-Serena Williams is on a 120-week run at the top of women’s tennis, and her French Open title increased her advantage over the rest of the field. Williams now has 11,291 ranking points, while No. 2 Petra Kvitova is 4,421 points behind -- equivalent to more than the number of points a player could earn by winning two Grand Slam championships. Each Grand Slam title is worth 2,000 points.

-Hockey play-by-play announcer Mike “Doc” Emrick, who is calling the Stanley Cup Finals for NBC, is the eighth recipient of the Vin Scully Lifetime Achievement Award in Sports Broadcasting from WFUV, the radio station at Fordham University.

-Eric Lagerstrom of Portland, Oregon, won last Sunday’s Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon in 2 hours, 2 minutes, 6 seconds. Women’s winner Ashleigh Gentle, from Robina, Australia, finished in 2:13.43. The triathlon encompasses a 1.5-mile swim from the former prison on Alcatraz Island to mainland San Francisco, plus an 18-mile bike ride and an eight-mile run.

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