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TOTALLY RANDOM

How about Shaq vs. Nastia Liukin in gymnastics?

A new reality series pits O'Neal vs other top athletes in their own sport.

July 21, 2009|Mike Penner

To be filed under the heading "Why Didn't This Happen Sooner?" comes this: Shaquille O'Neal, starring in his own reality series.

That's right. Beginning Aug. 18, ABC will air "Shaq Vs.," a reality show pitting O'Neal against top athletes in their own sports.

Filming starts Wednesday in Pittsburgh, where O'Neal will take on Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in football.

Other episodes will pit O'Neal against Michael Phelps in swimming, Oscar De La Hoya in boxing, Albert Pujols in baseball, Serena Williams in tennis and Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh in beach volleyball.

John Saade, co-chief of ABC's reality programming, said O'Neal is "very playful, almost everyone can relate to him. He has a fun sort of childish persona, and at the same time he's a superstar.

"Our real hope is you come for the absurdity but you stay for the sport."

O'Neal, the former Laker who was recently traded to Cleveland, would seem to be a prohibitive underdog in every episode, which raises a very important question: Why didn't ABC book champion hot dog eater Joey Chestnut?

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Trivia time

Which major league baseball player hit an identical number of home runs in four consecutive seasons? One qualifier: The player had to hit at least 40 homers in each season.

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True value

Stewart Cink took home about $1.23 million after winning the British Open, not counting the sterling silver Claret Jug trophy.

Cash4Gold, a buyer of precious metals direct from the general public, has determined the melt value of the trophy to be about $1,200.

According to Cash4Gold, the Claret Jug weighs approximately 5.4 pounds and stands just over 20 inches.

In a release, the company notes that "the sentimental worth of the Claret Jug for Stewart Cink almost certainly outweighs the melt value that the piece would garner if it were sent to Cash4Gold. Melt value does not account for the decorative, artistic, historic or sentimental value of a given item."

In other words, Cink being able to hoist the Claret Jug after four rounds and a playoff: Priceless.

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Pregnant pause

Minor league baseball teams keep raising, or lowering, the bar when it comes to promotional gimmicks.

And now here is the latest.

The Brooklyn Cyclones are holding a night for "Bellies and Baseball: A Salute to Pregnancy" on Sunday.

The promotion included a Lamaze class in center field before the game, a run/walk around the bases, and women in their third trimester throwing the ceremonial first pitch.

The Cyclones, a Class-A affiliate of the New York Mets, also offered free season tickets to any mother who names her child "Brooklyn" or "Cy."

No word on what a mother would get for having a "Clone."

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Trivia answer

Adam Dunn, who hit 40 home runs in each season, from 2005 to 2008.

(Question and answer provided by reader Robert Langelier of Temecula.)

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And finally

From Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times: "Houston Dynamo forward Brian Ching, getting fined $500 for calling a referee "a cheat" on Twitter, is a classic case of:

"a) Let your fingers do the talking.

"b) Cha-Ching! for the MLS coffers.

"c) The agony of de tweet."

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mike.penner@latimes.com

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