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MORNING BRIEFING

Have Hanshin Tigers raised title hopes with fast food icon?

A statue of a famous colonel with ties to a Japanese baseball team was found at the bottom of a river.

March 13, 2009|Mike Penner

A statue of Kentucky Fried Chicken's Colonel Sanders was recovered at the bottom of Osaka, Japan's Dotonbori River on Tuesday by divers checking for unexploded bombs. And what does this have to do with sports?

The statue wound up in the river 24 years ago thanks to rowdy fans of the Hanshin Tigers baseball team after Hanshin won its first Central League championship in 21 years.

The fans decided Colonel Sanders bore a striking resemblance of Tigers power-hitter and former major leaguer Randy Bass, so, of course, they had to attack the statue outside a nearby Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant, lifting it off its base and flinging it into the river.

Since then, the Tigers have not won another championship, fans now chalking up the drought to, that's right, "the Curse of Colonel Sanders."

Trivia time

How many big league teams did Bass play for?

Box tops-for-bongs promotion also canceled

After ending its promotional contract with Michael Phelps, Kellogg Co. found itself with an abundance of breakfast cereal in boxes bearing images of Phelps on the front panel. What to do when your spokesman and cover athlete is photographed using a marijuana pipe?

Kellogg decided to donate thousands of boxes to the San Francisco Food Bank -- each box bearing Phelps' face on the front.

The company didn't say why the boxes were donated, only that Kellogg routinely donates food near the end of its shelf life but still good.

"It's a huge convenience food," said Paul Ash, executive director of the food bank.

Shorter shelf life projected here

What do Jim Haslett, Jim Fassel and Dennis Green have in common?

All three are former NFL head coaches desperate enough for work to lend their names and reputations to a new football league, the United Football League, which is supposed to start in October.

The UFL will kick off with four teams. Fassel will coach the Las Vegas club, Haslett the Orlando franchise and Green the San Francisco team. The fourth franchise, based in New York, will be coached by former San Diego Chargers defensive coordinator Ted Cottrell.

"This will be awesome," Fassel told reporters Wednesday. "It's pure coaching -- players that want to get better, players that want to develop.

"A lot less of the other stuff that's always involved when you're an NFL coach."

Yeah, such as coaching talented players.

Trivia answer

Five. Bass played for the Minnesota Twins, Kansas City Royals, Montreal Expos, San Diego Padres and Texas Rangers before joining the Hanshin Tigers in 1983. In 1986, he batted .389 for the Tigers, a league record that still stands.

And finally

Jerry Greene of the Orlando Sentinel, on the Wall Street Journal expanding its sports coverage: "Why not? Got to be more fun than covering guys jumping out of windows."

--

mike.penner@latimes.com

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