Sunday, March 23, 2008

pororoca surfing

State Department urges Americans to be on guard in Beijing

WASHINGTON -- The State Department is advising Americans planning to attend the Olympic Games in Beijing to take care and be mindful that they could be under surveillance.

"All hotel rooms and offices are considered to be subject to on-site or remote technical monitoring at all times," the department's Bureau of Consular Affairs advised on Thursday. "Hotel rooms, residences and offices may be accessed at any time without the occupant's consent or knowledge."

The warning was part of an Olympics "fact sheet" that also said the threat level for terrorism against Americans in China remains low, although recent violence in Tibet is an example of how potentially dangerous events can occur in the approach to the Olympics in Beijing and other Chinese cities.

Beijing Gymnasium

AP Photo/Ng Han Guan

The University of Science and Technology Beijing Gymnasium will host Taekwondo competitions during the 2008 Olympic Games.

"Any large-scale public event like the upcoming Olympic Games could become the focus of terrorist acts or other forms of violence," the bureau said.

However, it said there was no reason to believe Americans were being targeted at this time.

"Travelers are strongly encouraged to be aware of their surroundings while in China," the statement said. "Continued vigilance is necessary to reduce the likelihood of becoming a victim of crime."

While the State Department typically advises American travelers to be cautious, the fact sheet was issued amid rising tensions over a Chinese crackdown on Tibetan protesters. The Chinese generally are sensitive to outside criticism, and they consider hosting the Olympics a coup.

In a section on privacy and safety, the State Department office warned Americans that "they have no reasonable expectation of privacy in public or private locations."

The State Department also warned that hotels, apartments and other buildings might be fire and safety hazards.

"Many hotels and apartment buildings may be of substandard construction, lack emergency exits, fire suppression systems, carbon monoxide monitors and standard security equipment [locks, alarms, and personnel]," the statement said, suggesting Americans review fire evacuation procedures.

Americans were also advised to keep their passports out of the reach of pickpockets, and to be wary of Olympics tickets scams.

And State noted that Americans returning home with fake or pirated goods could face fines or have to turn in any illegal booty.

"In many countries around the world, including China, counterfeit and pirated goods, including medications, are widely available," the notice said. "Transactions involving such products are illegal and bringing them back to the United States may result in forfeitures and/or fines."

Americans with dual Chinese citizenship were counseled to travel on their American passport so that the U.S. consular affairs office can help them if they are arrested or detained by local authorities for any reason. "U.S. Embassy and Consulate officials are often denied access to arrested or detained Americans who do not enter China using their U.S. passport," the statement said.

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Beijing Olympics face another problem in run-up to the games _ too many squat toilets

The Beijing Olympics are being hit with another problem, at least by Western standards: too many squat toilets.

Beijing organizers have held more than 30 tests events, and the presence of squat toilets at many of the new and renovated venues has drawn frequent complaints. The issue came up again over the weekend when the San Diego Padres played the Los Angeles Dodgers at the new Olympic baseball venue. The portable toilets trucked in were the squat variety, the style used widely in Asia.

"We have asked the venues to improve on this, to increase the number to sit-down toilets," Yao Hui, deputy director of venue management for the Beijing organizers, said Wednesday. "Many people have raised the question of toilets."

Yao suggested it would be difficult to change every permanent toilet in the 37 venues, 31 of which are in Beijing. So he said the focus would be on satisfying three groups of visitors: athletes, journalists and the Olympic family, meaning primarily VIPs.

He said renovation was underway at the three most striking venues for the Olympics, the 91,000-seat "Bird's Nest" National Stadium, the "Water Cube" and the National Indoor Stadium. He said most of the toilets there "should be" the sit-down style.

Beijing is expecting about 500,000 foreigners to attend the Aug. 8-24 games.

"Most of the Chinese people are used to the squat toilet, but nowadays more and more people demand sit-down toilets," Yao said. "However, it will take some time for this transition."

Beijing is reported to be spending at least US$40 billion (€25.5 billion) on the venues and related infrastructure, all designed to feature a modern country that has grown in three decades to a political and economic powerhouse.

"I believe the Olympic games will be a great opportunity for us to speed up this transition," Yao added. "I believe the situation will get better and better."

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Formula One to return to BBC TV

The BBC has secured the television rights to show Formula One in the UK from the 2009 season.

The five-year deal for an undisclosed fee marks F1's return to BBC screens 12 years after it switched to ITV.

The contract covers all platforms and will see F1 broadcast on the BBC Sport website, as well as on TV and radio.

F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone said he was "delighted", adding: "The BBC has some innovative ideas to consolidate and expand our UK fan base."

Among the new developments will be live video coverage of F1 on the BBC Sport website.

Asked why he had decided to split with ITV, Ecclestone told BBC Radio 5 Live: "It's not that we are unhappy with ITV but I think maybe they will have their hands full with other things and maybe the BBC can service us a bit better.

I'm absolutely flabbergasted - I almost fell out of bed when I heard it
Murray Walker
Former F1 commentator

"I think it will be good, a fresh face. I'm not complaining about ITV, I'm not saying they did a bad job or anything like that.

"But with all the other things they are loaded up with - and who knows they will get some more stuff - maybe it will be a bit more difficult to spend as much time on us.

"I think the BBC will do that."

Dominic Coles, BBC Sport director of sport rights, said: "The biggest motorsporting event in the world is returning home after 12 years.

"We were delighted when Bernie Ecclestone approached us about the return of F1 to the BBC.

Damon Hill celebrates winning the Formula One title in 1996
Damon Hill was the last man to win the title when the BBC had F1

"F1 is a crown jewel of sports broadcasting, so to bring the rights back to their traditional home from 2009 is tremendously exciting.

"Fans will be able to enjoy uninterrupted, state of the art and innovative coverage from BBC Sport, across all of our TV, radio and new media platforms, for the first time since 1996."

ITV, which was in the third year of a five-year deal, released a statement saying it had "decided to exit F1 at the end of this season".

It added that it was a "straightforward commercial decision".

BBC director of sport Roger Mosey said: "Our understanding is that F1 did have a termination right at the end of the 2008 season, and that appears to be what has happened, and we're absolutely delighted F1 will be back on the BBC this time next year."


Murray Walker, former F1 commentator for both the BBC and ITV, said: "I'm absolutely flabbergasted - I was lying in bed listening to the news this morning and I almost fell out of bed when I heard it.

"It's an amazing development because I think ITV did and do a superb job, and I think there is more to this than meets the eye."

BBC sports news correspondent Adam Parsons said: "ITV are saying it was a straightforward commercial decision. A lot of people I have spoken to have queried that.

"Within ITV, what they are saying is that even though Lewis Hamilton is great, even though the Brazilian Grand Prix [at the end of last year] got huge viewing figures, that actually over the course of a year viewing figures are not that impressive, they're not that great.

"A lot of races are happening at night, they're not happening at peak time. That it is not particularly good value for money.

"The other side of that is the BBC is saying, Lewis Hamilton and the ripple effect of that is wonderful, millions of people tune in and the Brazilian GP was the most-watched sports event of last year.

"You might say ITV would rather bad-mouth it because they've just lost the rights but on the one hand they're saying it's a straightforward commercial decision.

"But on the other plenty of people are saying that having spent a decade broadcasting when a German, a Finn and a Spaniard were winning world titles, it seems a bit curious [for ITV] to pull out when a Brit is on the verge of winning it."

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The Legend of Tiger Woods Keeps Growing

DORAL, Fla. - The outcome has never been more inevitable. Tiger Woods has never looked so invincible. The world's No. 1 golfer faced a 25-foot birdie putt on the final hole at Bay Hill, and the moment he settled over the ball and the crowd grew quiet, it no longer mattered that Woods had not made a putt this long all week.

This one was for the win.

For most players, making such a clutch putt would be a career highlight. For Woods, it's more like a summer rerun.

"You know what he's going to do, right?" Arnold Palmer whispered to those around him right before Woods rapped his putt down the slope and watched it turn sharply to the right and tumble into the cup for a one-shot victory.

For Woods, it is the ultimate thrill.

"It's knowing that you have an opportunity to end the tournament, and it's in your hands," he said. "Whether you do it or not remains to be seen. It's like having the ball with a few seconds to go. Do you want it or not want it? I would much rather have it in my hands."

Lately, it has been nothing but net.

The Florida Swing long has been known as the road to the Masters, which is three weeks away. Woods already has his game at warp speed, and he's lapping the field. His victory Sunday in the Arnold Palmer Invitational was his fifth in a row on the PGA Tour and his sixth straight worldwide, a streak that spans six months and is the longest overall of his incomparable career. When he won seven straight tour events in 2006-2007, second only to Byron Nelson's 11 in 1945, Woods lost three times overseas.

Now, even the purists must wonder if Woods can go an entire season without losing.

"It's unbelievable, isn't it?" Steve Stricker said Monday. "You think that one of these times, he's not going to get it done. But he continues to do it. And now you expect it. You just learn with him that nothing is unexpected."

Woods' latest victim was Bart Bryant, who did everything right and never felt so helpless.

Bryant twice made birdie to tie Woods for the lead, shot a 67 in stifling heat and waited in the scoring trailer to see if Woods could beat him. There was no television in the trailer, and Bryant didn't need one.

He heard a roar that rattled the trailer, and Bryant forced a smile and slowly shook his head.

"That's why he's Tiger Woods," he said.

Stricker felt that way outside Chicago the second week in September, when this winning streak started. He had a one-shot lead in the final round when he got to the 12th hole, looked down toward the green and saw Woods make a 50-foot birdie putt to catch him. Woods went on to a two-shot victory.

He can sympathize with Bryant.

"That's all you can do sometimes is shake your head and laugh," Stricker said. "That's what it's getting to be -- laughable."

Golf is more global than it was a half-century ago, so Woods' winning streak is complicated. This is the third time he has won at least five in a row, and he also won on the European Tour last month, shooting a 31 on the back nine to rally from a four-shot deficit.

And he won the Target World Challenge in December, although that doesn't count because it was a charity event that Woods hosts for 16 top players from the world ranking. For what it's worth, Woods won by seven shots.

Woods is so dominant that he has won seven of his last eight times on the PGA Tour, the exception being a runner-up finish to Phil Mickelson at the Deutsche Bank Championship on Labor Day. He's an incredible 16 for 25 since the 2006 British Open.

"What he's doing now, you can't even fathom it," Bryant said. "You just can't explain it. It's just incredible. Just what he did today is more evidence of this weird zone he's in. And he's been in it his whole life."

Woods was just starting college in 1994, a skinny teenager who had fallen behind in the championship match of the U.S. Amateur, when his father whispered in his ear, "Let the legend grow." Woods birdied three straight holes to win.

Ernie Els added to the hype when Woods went eagle-birdie-birdie to beat him in a playoff in Hawaii to start the 2000 season.

"I think he's a legend in the making," Els said that day. "You guys have helped, but he's backed it up with his golf game. He's 24. He's probably going to be bigger than Elvis when he gets into his 40s."

He didn't wait that long. He's only 32 and already is tied with Ben Hogan for third in career victories with 64. The only players ahead of him are Jack Nicklaus (73) and Sam Snead (82).

With each victory, Woods adds another layer to the legend.

It's not even spring yet, and consider his year so far: He set scoring records at Torrey Pines with an eight-shot victory. He was headed for a first-round defeat in the Accenture Match Play Championship when he made 90 feet worth of putts to win four straight holes for a stunning comeback victory, and he eventually set a record in the final match for largest margin of victory (8 and 7).

And then came Palmer's tournament, and a putt that everyone knew was going to drop.

Can he go undefeated? Even as well as he is playing, the odds are against it. Woods hinted as much when someone asked what could stop this winning streak.

"All of the players in the event," he said.

Even so, consider what lies ahead. He is playing this week at Doral, where he has won the last three years. Next up is the Masters, where Woods is a four-time champion. He is the defending champion at the Wachovia Championship in North Carolina. In fact, he has won every event on his schedule.

"He's got a lot of memories, and they're all positive," Stricker said. "Some guys could blow a tournament, and two weeks later they're in contention and have to think about that. All he has is positives. His whole career is nothing but positive reinforcement."

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Sharpen Your Golf Game Online This Winter

Ok. You’ve probably seen custom golf simulators from Full Swing Golf on TV shows, cruise ships, and in your local golf shop. But did you know that you can now use these simulators to compete in online tournaments? This new feature, which allows Full Swing simulator owners to setup and participate in online tournaments, is currently included as part of the package. This month the company hosted its first official International Closest to the Pin tournament during the 2008 PGA Orlando, and the winner earned a trip to San Diego to play Torrey Pines.

Full Swing Golf simulators come pre-loaded with 54 of the world’s best courses, including Pebble Beach, Cog Hill, and the Old Course at St. Andrews. The company’s brag sheet of celebrity installs features Donald Trump, Rich Gannon, Curt Schilling, Michael Jordan, and Tony Robbins.

To hook up a Full Swing Golf simulator in your pad you’ll need a room at least 13 feet wide, 20 feet long, and with ceilings 10.5 feet high. And it will run you about $55,000.

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Money sacks: Dallas Cowboys' DeMarcus Ware set to cash in

IRVING – Either this year or next, linebacker DeMarcus Ware figures to cash in on what should be the most lucrative contract Jerry Jones has ever given out in terms of guaranteed money as the Dallas Cowboys' owner and general manager.

After three years, Ware has been named to the Pro Bowl twice and was an alternate as a rookie. His sack totals have increased each year from eight in 2005 to 11½ in 2006 and 14 last season, which brought him consideration for the Defensive Player of the Year award.

Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones acknowledged recently part of the team's lack of work in the current free-agent market was due to the fact they have to re-sign cornerback Terence Newman, who is in the final year of his contract, and Ware, whose deal runs out in 2009.

Considering Indianapolis gave its pass-rushing fiend, Dwight Freeney, a six-year, $72 million deal with a $30 million signing bonus last summer, the Cowboys are probably looking at similar numbers for Ware.

Probably more. Freeney, 28, has done it longer, but Ware only turns 26 in July.

The thought of more zeroes in a bank account already larger than he ever imagined growing up in Auburn, Ala., do not cross Ware's mind.

"Just working out, doing what I need to do because I know each year is a year I need to excel," Ware said. "I'm going to do my best to show them I'm that guy. This year I'm going to make sure I'm bigger, stronger, faster and even more productive than last year. They say 14 sacks was productive. I look at it if I get 15, then you never know that 15th sack could get you to the Super Bowl. So that's the way I look at it. I'll let them handle that contract stuff."

When the Cowboys drafted Ware out of Troy in the first round in 2005, then-coach Bill Parcells compared him to Lawrence Taylor and Willie McGinest, two of the best pass rushers Parcells ever had with the Giants and Patriots. The Joneses saw another Charles Haley.

The lofty expectations haven't hampered Ware. Last season he became the first Cowboy to post back-to-back double-digit sack seasons since Haley in 1994 and '95. The 14 sacks in 2007 were the most in the NFL by a linebacker. Ware had 27 quarterback pressures and 80 tackles.

He accomplished all of that by playing 1,007 snaps, second most on the defense. Because of Ware's build (6-4, 255), Parcells did not want to wear him out by going against bigger tackles all the time, but the switch to Wade Phillips' scheme was not as taxing on him.

Dallas Cowboys linebacker DeMarcus Ware had 14 sacks during the 2007 season.
Dallas Cowboys linebacker DeMarcus Ware had 14 sacks during the 2007 season.

"You got one system with Bill Parcells to where you're head up on a guy a lot. You're tussling a lot, going against big guys mano a mano," Ware said. "With Wade's system, it's a little different. I'm more of an outside guy. I use half my body half the time. ... It's really a good thing. I jut think that you can play every snap with this scheme, but Parcells' scheme is a little harder because you're tussling around a little more and it wears your body down."

The Cowboys' off-season program does not begin until March 31, but Ware has been a regular at the team's facility, working out two or three times a week.

"Not like hard, more like stretching and keeping your body in an even keel because once the off-season workouts start, they're going to kill you," Ware said. "You want to go in a little bit in shape."

Ware wants to get up to 265 pounds in the off-season – he was listed at 252 last year but said he ended the year at 255 – in order to hold up better over 16 games, but he doesn't believe that will affect his best asset, his speed.

"There are other things I do other than just speeding," Ware said. "But that's the key to the whole deal. I'm going to give you speed all the time."

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Go Fast Reverse Bungee Jump

The NBA's Top Gossips

How Three Nobodies Built Basketball's
Most Powerful News Site -- From Spain


General managers, agents, sportswriters and knowledgeable fans of the National Basketball Association log on every morning to for the latest in news and gossip.

The pro basketball Web site has influenced player moves, stoked rivalries and now attracts more than a half-million unique visitors a month after starting from scratch in 2002. NBA coaches read it to check in on their job status, and rumors posted there have put trades in motion. "It's required reading for every member of my staff," says Bill Duffy, an NBA agent in Walnut Creek, Calif.

It's also been a mystery. For all its popularity, few had any idea who was behind it.

The Three Amigos: (from left) Jorge Sierra, Angel Marin and Raúl Barrigón of

After six years of anonymity, the architects of have come forward, and they turn out to be a surprising squad: three 29-year-old men working from their apartments in Spain. Collectively, they've been to two NBA games, although they watch on TV. One of them doesn't even like the sport.

How three Spaniards became the town criers of a major North American sports league is another reminder of how the Internet is helping displace traditional reporting with specialized sites and forums that feature a mix of rumors, news and opinion. "I like the fact that what I do has an impact on the NBA outside of my country," says Hoopshype founder Jorge Sierra.

On a recent February afternoon, after the news broke that the Miami Heat planned to trade center Shaquille O'Neal to the Phoenix Suns, the bilingual Hoopshype team gathered in a small third-floor apartment in the Salamanca neighborhood of Madrid to work the story. Raúl Barrigón hunched over a computer in the smaller of the two bedrooms. He scoured the Web for tidbits, trying to make sense of the trade. "He still has to pass a physical, and that's a big 'if' because he's already messed up physically," said Mr. Barrigón.

Shaquille O'Neal's recent trade to Phoenix doubled the site's traffic

In the sparsely furnished living room, Mr. Sierra and Angel Marin sat at opposite ends of a glass-top dining-room table, pecking away at laptops. Mr. Sierra obsessively dialed Danilo Gallinari, an Italian player expected to be a top pick in the NBA draft this June. An ESPN online reporter sent an email saying he needed to change a couple of details before Mr. Sierra could post a link to his story. Meantime, tens of thousands more visitors than usual swamped the Hoopshype site, seeking the latest on the Shaq trade. Mr. Sierra -- thin, with angular features and deep-set eyes -- rested his head in his left hand. He'd been up since 7 a.m., five hours earlier than usual. "It killed me," he said.

Mr. Sierra created six years ago in a bedroom of his parents' home in Valladolid, a town 125 miles northwest of Madrid. The popularity of basketball began swelling here after Spain reached the finals in the 1984 Olympics. Basketball fever spread during the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, when a U.S. dream team of NBA stars transfixed the country. The growing interest in the game in the 1980s had spawned a number of Spanish-language basketball magazines, including Gigantes, where all three men worked as college students in 2000.

In 2001, Mr. Sierra took a job writing for a women's basketball Web site. He says he was shocked to discover that it was making money, so he bought a manual on how to create a Web site and launched It began as a technical and financial disaster, crashing once a week and drawing no advertisers. Mr. Sierra eventually found a stable of U.S. writers to contribute articles at $25 a shot. He used his connections with European pro basketball teams to land interviews with players who were drawing attention from U.S. teams.

Ana Nance/Redux Pictures
Left to right: Jorge Sierra, Raul Barrigon, Angel Marin

Even when he was running the site by himself, Mr. Sierra rarely rose before noon. He didn't have to. His time zone gave him a five-hour head start on his closest U.S. rivals. He used the time to scour the Web for the latest NBA news so that his summary was ready when U.S. agents and NBA executives start checking the site in the morning. "I think everybody reads it," says Lon Babby, a Washington-based agent who represents 19 NBA players.

The hub of the site is "Rumors," which are harvested from hundreds of sources, including U.S. and international newspapers, as well as other Web sites and bloggers. Hoopshype taps a lengthy source list of agents, players and executives to confirm stories and break news. In 2004, according to Mr. Sierra, they were the first to report the Lakers were trading Gary Payton to Boston.

What most distinguishes Hoopshype is the critical mass of movers and shakers who read it daily. Even when the rumors prove false, the site acts as a catalyst. One morning in October 2005, a Hoopshype item caught the eye of Larry Harris, the former general manager of the Milwaukee Bucks: A New York tabloid was reporting that the New Orleans Hornets wanted to trade Jamaal Magloire.

The story turned out to be wrong. But the rumor prompted Mr. Harris to call the Hornets to find out if they were willing to deal. Two days later, Mr. Magloire was on his way to Milwaukee. Mr. Harris says he routinely calls other general managers in the league based on tips from Hoopshype.

A rumor on Hoopshype sparked a trade for Jamaal Magloire

"If anyone tells you they're not reading it, I'd have to say they're maybe trying to keep a lot of things close to the vest," Mr. Harris says.

Over lunch at an Asian fusion restaurant in downtown Madrid, Messrs. Sierra, Marin and Barrigón discuss the American sport that keeps them fed. Mr. Marin pulls out the laptop to check how much Internet traffic is being generated by the Shaq trade. He is the bookish, technical guru of Hoopshype and wears a black T-shirt that says, "I void warranties."

Mr. Marin confesses he attended his first NBA game last year in Los Angeles. "It was boring," he says. He points across the table at Mr. Sierra. "But it's one more game than he's been to."

The soft-spoken Mr. Sierra is embarrassed to admit he'd never attended an NBA game in the U.S. before he traveled to New Orleans last month for the All-Star game. Before that his only taste of the league had come from a few pre-season exhibitions played in Spain.

While Hoopshype's proprietors like to point out that Spain has become a major basketball hotbed ("It's not like we're in Uzbekistan," Mr. Barrigón says), they say they've been reluctant to make it widely known that the site is run an ocean away from the nearest NBA arena. "It's not something we're trying to hide, but it's not something we're trying to show, either," Mr. Sierra says.

Profits began dribbling in about a year after the launch. Two years later, Dime magazine, a basketball publication in the U.S., agreed to sell ads on Hoopshype for a split of the revenue. That arrangement yielded a deal with Nike in late 2004, providing Mr. Sierra with enough money to move out of his parents' house and into an apartment.

Last year, Fantasy Sports Ventures went looking for him. FSV, based in New York, is building a network of Web sites for advertisers that deliver readers bundled by sport and topic. The firm, which had been acquiring sports Web sites, wanted a basketball site with broad reach. When its representatives started asking NBA insiders to name the sport's most influential Web site, their answer -- more often than not -- was

It took three months for FSV executives to track down Mr. Sierra and arrange a meeting. In December, they agreed to purchase Hoopshype for a price in the "low-seven figures," according to Chris Russo, the chief executive. Mr. Sierra received the lion's share of the money, but says he insisted on sharing the proceeds with Messrs. Barrigón and Marin, as well as retaining them as full-time employees. The three men continue to run the site.

It's 9 p.m. in Madrid. The tipoff of the day's first NBA game back in the States is still three hours away. Messrs. Sierra and Barrigón are riding the subway on a break for dinner and drinks. Their work days usually stretch into the middle of the night during NBA season, which runs from October to June. "One of us is always doing something related to Hoopshype until we go to bed," says Mr. Sierra.

As usual, they're talking hoops. Even in Spanish-inflected English it sounds like an episode of TNT's "Inside the NBA." Mr. Barrigón reminds Mr. Sierra that during the 1992 Olympics the NBA star and U.S. Dream Teamer Chris Mullin made 14 of 26 three-point shots. Shifting subjects, Mr. Sierra says former New York Knicks head coach Jeff Van Gundy hurt the team by making Latrell Sprewell play out of position.

They keep circling back to the news of the day, the departure of the superstar center, Mr. O'Neal, from the Miami Heat. For Phoenix, trading the younger, cheaper Shawn Marion for an aging star with two years remaining on his contract after this season "is pretty stupid," Mr. Sierra says.

As the subway nears its stop, Mr. Barrigón checks his watch. It's two o'clock in the afternoon in Phoenix. Mr. O'Neal will be touching down there shortly. They'd better hurry. Mr. O'Neal might be done with his physical before they get back to their computers.

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Dusting Off the Archive for the Web

Visitors to the Sports Illustrated Web site will be able to check out the George Steinbrenner cover story from 1993, along with Magic Johnson in 1991 and Casey Stengel and Yogi Berra in 1964.

As magazines and newspapers hunt for the new thing they need to be to thrive in the Internet era, some find that part of the answer lies in the old thing they used to be.

Publications are rediscovering their archives, like a person learning that a hand-me-down coffee table is a valuable antique. For magazines and newspapers with long histories, especially, old material can be reborn on the Web as an inexpensive way to attract readers, advertisers and money.

Sports Illustrated, which faces fierce daily, even hourly, competition with ESPN, Yahoo Sports and others, has something its main rivals do not: a 53-year trove of articles and photos, most of it from an era when the magazine dominated the field of long-form sports writing and color sports photography.

On Thursday, the magazine will introduce the Vault, a free site within that contains all the words Sports Illustrated has ever published and many of the images, along with video and other material, in a searchable database. already draws more than six million unique visitors each month, according to Nielsen Online (publications insist that the true numbers are much higher than Nielsen’s ratings), and executives of the magazine predict the Vault could add five million monthly readers.

“The real hidden value of this is what it does for search,” said John Squires, executive vice president of Time Inc., the Time Warner subsidiary that publishes Sports Illustrated. The move quadruples the site’s volume, he said. “We’ll have to work our way up the search algorithms over time, but eventually, someone searches Johnny Unitas, and is going to pop up.”

Many publications, including most major magazines, still offer little or no archive access online. And of those that do allow readers to look deep into their histories, many charge for it, like The Washington Post or The Atlantic Monthly, whose online archives both go back to the 19th century.

But a growing number of publications are opening their own vaults — if only partially — or dropping pay requirements, and they say it makes a big difference in attracting readers.

Industry executives say that although old articles attract less interest from advertisers than current ones, any increase matters at a time when many newspapers and magazines are struggling to hold onto print ad revenue. They say that while building an archive for readers is time-consuming, it is not prohibitively expensive — people at some major magazines gave estimates in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. The material is already available, and the databases cost very little to operate.

Mark Ford, president of the Sports Illustrated Group at Time, said the Vault was expected to account for 5 percent of the magazine’s online revenue in its first year, and more in the future.

Popular Mechanics, a Hearst magazine, says about 35 percent of its online readers enter the site through a free archive that contains printed content back to the mid-1990s, and 15 percent enter through Web-only material.

The company does not share specific financial information, but James B. Meigs, editor in chief of Popular Mechanics, said, “we get good ad revenue from this traffic,” in part because it invites the reader to linger, digging more deeply into a particular topic.

Until recently, opened its archives only to people who subscribed to the print magazine or who paid an online fee, and content reached back to only 2000. “All it did was limit people’s interest in even looking at our archives,” said Deidre Depke, editor of

Last fall, the magazine — part of the Washington Post Company — made its online collection of past articles free and easier to navigate, and expanded it to go back to 1990; Web traffic to the archive quadrupled. Next month, it will add articles from 1975 through 1989, and then work will begin on everything back to the magazine’s founding in 1933.

“It’s an incredibly difficult project because we have to open up old computer files of every story, correct errors, change the coding, add computer tags,” Ms. Depke said. And issues from before the digital era have to be scanned, page by page.

For two years, The New York Times allowed only print subscribers and people who paid an online fee to read its editorials and columnists or to delve into the archive. Last September, it ended the pay requirement and made most articles accessible back to the mid-19th century.

Since then, search traffic to archive pages has more than doubled, and the archives now represent 10 percent of the page views on, said Diane McNulty, a spokeswoman.

Time Inc. has been ahead of this curve; two of its publications, People and Entertainment Weekly, give access to articles going back about a decade.

A few years ago, Time magazine put every issue cover and every article it had published, back to its founding in 1923, online free, though that feature is not prominent on the Web site.

Like most publications’ online archives, Time’s has few pictures, which can be more difficult to scan and store than articles, and often have thorny copyright issues. When news with a historical angle breaks, the magazine can put together a page on the subject using old and new articles, which the company says makes the archive more attractive to advertisers.

But the Sports Illustrated project, three years in the making, goes several steps further. It includes many of the magazine’s photos, along with links to related video on other sites.

The Vault’s search engine lets a reader search by athlete, coach, team, sport, decade and year. Want to see every Sports Illustrated cover with Magic Johnson, or all the articles that mentioned him in 1986? Easy.

The site also allows a reader to see high-resolution images of old issues of the magazine as it appeared in physical form, including ads, using a mouse to “turn” pages. Jeff Price, president of SI Digital, said, “We’re confident that there’s nothing else like this.”

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Dodgers and Padres tie first MLB game in China

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By Nick Mulvenney

BEIJING (Reuters) - The Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres tied 3-3 when Major League Baseball made its debut in China on Saturday.

With no extra innings played in exhibition games, the 12,224 fans at the Wukesong baseball field in the Chinese capital were denied a winner on a sunny but blustery day at the venue for August's Olympic tournament.

"Nobody's happy with a tie," Dodgers manager Joe Torre told reporters. "But both clubs took it seriously for sure.

"I thought it was closer to a regular season game than other exhibitions, with all the attention and everything."

George Lombard put the Dodgers ahead with a home run at the top of the third inning, powering the ball over the right field fence.


The Padres struck back when a wild throw from catcher Lucas May allowed second baseman Oscar Robles to sneak home from third base in the bottom of the fourth.

The Dodgers went back in front two innings later when May atoned for his error with a single and new $36.2 million outfielder Andruw Jones put them further ahead when he powered Matt Kemp home in the eighth.

But infielder Adrian Gonzalez drove Craig Stansberry and Scott Hairston in with a double at the bottom of the eighth to make it 3-3.

MLB has ambitious plans to make the sport as popular with the Chinese as it is with their neighbors in Taiwan, Japan and South Korea.

Torre was particularly pleased with the performance of Korean pitcher Park Chan-ho, who has returned to the Dodgers in an attempt to resurrect his injury-hit career.

"I thought it was not a good but a great outing," said the former New York Yankees manager.

"He gave up one run but it was a freak thing. I think he was in command of his stuff all day."

The teams play another exhibition at the same stadium on Sunday.

(Editing by Tony Jimenez)

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