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Rounders figures

Bewildering figure of the week? Business Insider’s estimate for the career earnings of the New York Yankees’ Alex ‘A-Rod’ Rodriguez: $325,416,252 – or, a mere €259,316,481.

Rodriguez is one of 12 baseball players listed as having earned $150 million in their careers, six of them earning the bulk of their dollars from the Yankees, although another 24 have had contracts worth at least $100 million.

Back in 2007, Rodriguez famously signed a 10-year, $275 million contract with the Yankees, the richest in baseball history, that will keep him playing until he is 42.

The moral of the story? You should have practised a little harder at rounders.

Bowler drops 'breeks' and old age pensioner

Those – and that’s quite possibly all of us – who always assumed bowls was a refined, genteel, well-mannered and hooligan-less kind of sport were in for a shock last week: “I’ve been watching lawn bowls for over 40 years and I’ve never seen anything like it,” a “stunned” spectator at the Edinburgh Cup Final told the Daily Record.

What happened? “A bowler caused mayhem when he stripped down to his boxer shorts and punched a pensioner during a match.” This ugliness took place during the clash of Noble’s Pilrig Bowling Club and, as the Record put it, their “bitter rivals” Summerside Bowling Club from Leith. Who knew there was bitterness in bowling? Scott Noble, “who is said to like a drink”, “dropped his trousers in front of 200 stunned spectators” after a little banter with an opponent got a touch heated, the 24-year-old then swinging a punch at a 76-year-old member of his very own committee who tried to calm him.

Mayhem ensued, a gaggle of bowling people attempting to restrain Noble before chucking him out of the club.

“This has rocked the bowls community in Edinburgh to its core,” said an unnamed spectator. “There were old women present when he decided to drop his breeks – they were mortified. Then he decides to chin one of his own committee men, who ended up with a cut head – the place was in pandemonium. He was walking about with his trousers down for ages.” The most unfortunate thing in all of this is that’s it’s put the bowls community in Edinburgh right off young people, who, until this, they had been eager enough to attract.

Cartoonists have a cut at Armstrong

Since being banned for life and stripped of his Tour de France titles by the US Anti-Doping Agency, Lance Armstrong still has his supporters in his homeland, many of them believing his claim that he is the victim of a witch-hunt. The cartoonists, though, have generally been of the non-supportive persuasion, Ingrid Rice (left), Bob Gorrell (right) and Mark Streeter producing particularly cutting efforts.

Norman's fate still the subject of much dispute

IT WAS one of the most iconic images of its time, of any time, Tommie Smith and John Carlos giving a gloved Black Power salute when they stood on the podium at the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico after winning gold and bronze medals in the 200 metres final.

The third man in the image, though, was less renowned outside his home country of Australia, silver medallist Peter Norman, an apprentice butcher from Melbourne, standing quietly as the two Americans made their protest.

The story seems to have grown in the telling over the years, but Norman was certainly supportive of the men, suggesting to them that they wear one glove each after hearing just before the ceremony that Carlos had forgotten to bring his pair, and wearing an ‘Olympic Project for Human Rights’ badge that they had given him.

His fate when he returned home, however, is the subject of much dispute, some claiming that he became a pariah in Australian athletics – he wasn’t, for example, selected for the 1972 Munich Games – others dismissing that as nonsense, insisting that his loss of form accounted for his fading from the scene.

It has also been widely claimed that Norman was the only Australian Olympic medallist not to be invited to take a lap of honour at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games, the American athletics team instead inviting him to stay with them during the Games. “You are my hero,” Michael Johnson was quoted as saying to him when they met.

“Norman was one of many hundreds of Australian Olympic medallists not specifically invited to attend the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games. He was in no way singled out,” argued Robert Messenger in The Canberra Times, in a column intent on debunking what the author believes are a set of myths surrounding Norman’s story.

And the claim that Norman “consistently ran qualifying times over 100m and 200m before the Munich Games” was, said Messenger, “complete and utter nonsense”.

“He did no such thing . . . he ran third in the Australian championships at Perry Lakes in Perth in 21.6. Not only did Australia not send Norman to Munich, it sent no sprinters. None was in good enough form to send. Norman never ran under 10.6 for the 100.”

“The truth is,” he wrote, “Peter Norman was a fairly average Australian, although one convicted four times for drink-driving. Bravery in standing up for racial equality was far better, I believe, exemplified elsewhere.”

The reason why Messenger was particularly exercised was because of a motion tabled in the Canberra parliament by Labour MP Andrew Leigh for a posthumous apology to be awarded to Norman for his treatment on his return from Mexico. “It was a moment of heroism and humility that advanced international awareness for racial inequality,” said Leigh of Norman’s part in the ceremony, another MP, John Alexander, claiming his “simple gesture to wear this badge on the dais as Smith and Carlos raised their fist in protest condemned Norman to never represent Australia again”.

“Yes, there were people victimised,” argued Messenger, “but Peter Norman wasn’t among them. I feel certain he would be embarrassed if he were alive today. I don’t want to downplay Norman’s gesture, or belittle his athletic achievements . . . first, though, I’d check my facts.”

Carlos, though, begs to differ, insisting that Norman, with whom he stayed in touch after Mexico, was indeed ostracised, telling Australian radio on Tuesday that “the disrespect, I think, mortally wounded him . . . I don’t think he was as bitter as he was hurt . . . and I don’t think he ever recovered”.

Carlos was a pallbearer at Norman’s funeral after he died, aged 64, of a heart attack in 2006 having suffered from depression, alcoholism and an addiction to painkillers. With Smith, Carlos took part in a documentary called Salute, made by Norman’s nephew Matt, that brought the three men together to talk about their 1968 experience.

“Peter didn’t have to take that button, Peter wasn’t from the United States, Peter was not a black man, Peter didn’t have to feel what I felt, but he was a man,” he said.

Norman’s 91-year-old mother Thelma and his sister Elaine Ambler were in parliament on Monday to hear the tributes paid to him.

Morris' ties to football still strong

The news last week that former Republic of Ireland international Kevin Sheedy, now a coach with the Everton academy, has been diagnosed with bowel cancer prompted more than a little reminiscing about Italia ’90 when, as if we need to be reminded of the fact, he scored the goal that earned Ireland a 1-1 draw with England.

Looking at Jack Charlton’s starting line-up that day – Packie Bonner, Chris Morris, Steve Staunton, Mick McCarthy, Kevin Moran, Paul McGrath, Ray Houghton, Andy Townsend, John Aldridge, Tony Cascarino, Sheedy – a ‘where are they now?’ round-up is hardly necessary.

It’s striking just how many of them ended up in the world of punditry, simply confirming that auld ‘gift of the gab’ theory.

Some, of course, tried their hand at management or coaching, two giving it a lash as Republic managers, but the one who took a very different route, initially at least, was Chris Morris, the right-back in that team.

A native of Cornwall, Morris qualified to play for the Republic through his Monaghan-born mother, going on to win 35 caps after his debut in 1987.

After finishing his club career with Middlesbrough in 1997, after earlier spells with Sheffield Wednesday and Celtic, he got involved in the property game, but after the death of his father in 2003 returned to Cornwall to run the family business, ‘Morris Cornish Pasties’ – “home of the world’s finest pasty”.

(Warning: Google them and your mouth will be watering — uncontrollably).

The ties to football remained strong, though, Morris, now 48, taking charge of the football academy at Cornwall’s Bodmin College, and this summer, after Exeter City formed a partnership with the college, the League Two club appointed him professional development coach of the 12-16 age group in their Centre of Excellence.

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