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TOTALLY RANDOM

Omar Vizquel's great anaconda adventure

The Texas Rangers infielder gets his hands on an 11-foot anaconda as his adrenaline rush of the off-season.

March 17, 2009|Mike Penner

Eleven-time Gold Glove winner Omar Vizquel caught something different in the off-season: an 11-foot anaconda in the wildlands of his native Venezuela.

"It was always a dream of mine to go out in the jungle and try to find an anaconda," Vizquel, now with the Texas Rangers, told the Associated Press. "You see so many movies and so many things about it. I saw it in the zoo and other places, but it would be great just to see it out in the wild."

Vizquel wasn't deterred by the fact that in those movies, anacondas are usually wrapped around their victims and trying to squeeze them to death.

"It was just an awesome experience, a lot of adrenaline," Vizquel said.

In a video Vizquel shared with teammates, Vizquel's guide stepped into shallow water, grabbed the anaconda by the tail and pulled it onto dry land. Vizquel eventually held the head of the snake, its mouth opened wide and its body coiling. Anacondas are nonvenomous.

"I was a little scared," Vizquel said. "Those snakes can eat an alligator."

The anaconda, described by Vizquel as a baby only about 2 years old and weighing 80-90 pounds, was released back into the wild. Anacondas have an average length of 20 feet and usually weigh more than 300 pounds.

"Well, yeah, I got it out of my system," Vizquel said. "But it would be great to go again and try to catch a bigger one."

Trivia time

Vizquel has previously played for the Seattle Mariners, Cleveland Indians and San Francisco Giants. How many Gold Gloves did he win with each team?

Pittsburgh Stealers

Eleven banners from the Pittsburgh Steelers' Super Bowl victory parade have been stolen from the Pittsburgh Public Works garage.

The city paid $95 each for 50 banners that lined the parade route after the Steelers' 27-23 victory over the Arizona Cardinals.

Five banners were stolen from the parade route, and the city offered the other 45 to the public for $150 each to cover the additional cost of hanging and taking down the signs. Fans quickly bought the banners and had picked up all but 13. Public Works director Guy Costa says workers found only two signs in the storage area last week, meaning someone stole 11 others. Costa said that police are investigating and the city will replace the stolen banners, if necessary.

Go deep

Muntathar Zaidi, the Iraqi journalist who threw his shoes at then-President George W. Bush, has been sentenced to three years in prison.

From Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times: "On the plus side, however, he and Michael Vick are suddenly even-money favorites to be the quarterback in 'The Longest Yard II.' "

Trivia answer

Vizquel won one Gold Glove with Seattle, eight with Cleveland and two with San Francisco.

And finally

A headline in the Keene (N.H.) Sentinel, on actor Keanu Reeves planning to drive in this year's Long Beach Grand Prix celebrity race: "Hey, dude, like start your engine."

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mike.penner@latimes.com

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