Mo Vaughn of the New York Mets weighed close to 300 pounds last season, but the former Angel appears in much better shape after an off-season regimen of diet and exercise, writes Jon Heyman of Newsday:
"The first great sign for Vaughn was that, unlike last season, he was willing to hop on a scale. The second? The scale didn't break.
"Vaughn told us he weighed 263 pounds. He didn't have to tell us, but that was the approximate size of his left calf last September."
More Heyman: "Maybe for the first time in his 35 years, Vaughn looks ready to do battle. Better yet, he appears able to bend over."
Trivia time: What three Southland men's college basketball players have led Division I in scoring?
Tough job: Myles Brand angered some Indiana fans by firing basketball coach Bob Knight, but the former university president will face a bigger backlash if he tries to reform college athletics in his new job as NCAA president, writes Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel:
"If he thinks those Indiana students were incensed when he overthrew the General, wait until he gets a load of Southeastern Conference football coaches when he tells them they're going to lose scholarships if they don't graduate their players.
"Police won't need riot gear to protect his home; they'll need chemical weapons."
Selling point: Lawyers for high school basketball star LeBron James are sending "cease and desist" letters to those selling or producing unauthorized James merchandise. Hundreds of items have been traded or sold on the Internet.
Weighty issue: Responding to reports of ephedra use among athletes, Charles Barkley said: "I do take ephedra, but I am not telling kids that it is OK to use. Talk with your mom, your dad or your trainer first."
Wrote Tom FitzGerald of the San Francisco Chronicle: "Better yet, before you take the possibly harmful weight-loss aid, take a look at Charles Barkley."
Memory lapse: Greg Cote of the Miami Herald, chiding the results of a recent Sports Illustrated poll in which 40% of basketball fans said they are less interested in the NBA than they were five years ago:
"Forget polls. Forget lamenting the passing of the Magic and Larry Show and consider this: The NBA is better than ever.... There might never be a 'next Michael.' Deal with it. The 'current Kobe' is good enough."
Cardinal Rule: Coach Mike Montgomery deserves credit for Stanford's surprising basketball season despite his arrogant reputation, writes Glenn Dickey of the San Francisco Chronicle:
"If he is arrogant, he's earned the right, because he has totally changed the image and reality of Stanford basketball."
Trivia answer: Pepperdine's William "Bird" Averitt, 33.9 points a game in 1972-73; and Loyola Marymount's Hank Gathers, 32.7 in 1988-89, and Bo Kimble, 35.3 in 1989-90.
And finally: Ned Colletti, assistant general manager of the San Francisco Giants, on the team's off-season shakeup:
"We lost 11 players, a great manager and a world-famous batboy."