NFL sponsors set to battle
Two companies backing an experimental impotence drug will become NFL sponsors, the American football league said Wednesday. The deal is expected to be the beginning of a ferocious marketing war in territory Viagra currently has to itself. Bayer Pharmaceuticals Corp and GlaxoSmithKline, which expect their drug Levitra to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration later this year, wouldn't say how much they are spending on the three-year sponsorship. They also declined to disclose details of the agreement. Published reports said the companies are spending US$18 million. A source close to the deal who spoke on condition of anonymity said that figure was close to the actual amount of the deal. Each week, 120 million people watch the NFL. "This is a strategic opportunity for us. We will educate men on health issues," Bayer spokeswoman Nancy Bryan said.
Minnie Minoso plays ball
Minnie Minoso became the first player to play professional baseball in seven decades when he took the field for the St. Paul Saints against Gary in the independent Northern League. Minoso, 77, was in the lineup Wednesday as St. Paul's designated hitter, as part of the team's annual Negro League tribute, and walked in the first inning. He became the first to play in six decades when he batted for the Saints in a game in 1993. He spent several years in the Negro Leagues before breaking into mainstream baseball in 1948 with Class A San Diego. He hit .298 in a 16-year major league career that ended in 1964 with the Chicago White Sox. Minoso, who currently works in Chicago's community relations department, came back with the White Sox in 1976 for eight at-bats (he got one hit) and two more in 1980.
Julio Lugo gets acquitted
Former Houston Astros shortstop Julio Lugo was acquitted Wednesday of charges he assaulted his wife by banging her head against their car. She testified she exaggerated the story and he didn't mean to hurt her during an April 30 argument at Minute Maid Park. Mabely Lugo let out a big sigh and smiled when the jury returned the verdict after deliberating for 35 minutes. Lugo's mother, Rhina Lugo, hugged her son's wife as she began crying. "I was very upset, confused," Mabely Lugo said. "He wasn't at fault." Julio Lugo was pleased with the verdict. "The truth was going to come out," the Dominican said. Lugo was released by the Astros days after his arrest and now plays for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. He had faced up to a year in prison and a US$4,000 fine if convicted of misdemeanor assault.
Bookies notice Langer
Bookmakers have installed Bernhard Langer as the 4-6 favorite to replace Sam Torrance as Europe's Ryder Cup captain next year. The official announcement is unlikely to come until the start of the 12-month long qualifying process in September. But Langer, who has played in 10 Ryder Cups including Europe's victory last year at The Belfry, has confirmed he wants to be a candidate for captaincy rather than as a player. "I called the office and told them I would like to have the job and I'm available," Langer said on Wednesday after practice for the British Open. "So it's up to the tournament committee or the Ryder Cup committee whoever they think is the right man for the job next year.