Ken Griffey Jr. spent a good part of last week counting pennies.
No, the Cincinnati Reds outfielder isn’t short on cash, he just needed to pay off a $1,500 debt to teammate Josh Fogg.
But instead of scratching a check or counting out 15 $100 bills, Griffey settled up in pennies.
He left 150,000 pennies -- 60 boxes of 2,500 weighing about 16 pounds each -- in Fogg’s locker.
“Basically, it’s like having 60 bowling balls in your locker, only with no holes to pick them up with,” Griffey said.
Fogg, a relief pitcher who hasn’t appeared in a game since May 4, took the gag in stride and said he knew exactly what he would do with the pennies.
“I’m going to take them out to the bullpen and count them,” he said. “I’ve got a lot of time on my hands out there.”
Griffey is three home runs short of becoming the sixth member of the 600 home run club. Which of the other five reached that milestone at the youngest age?
Crash and burn
Michael Schumacher, one of the best Formula One racers of all time, tried to pull a fast one on fans when he registered for a German Superbikes motorcycle race under the name Marcel Niederecken, but the plan was foiled when an insurance company said he had to use his real name.
So Schumacher, who retired from Formula One in 2005, entered his first major motorcycle race Sunday, and now we know why he wanted to use a fake name. He slid off the track and crashed and failed to finish the race.
“That’s what you call learning the hard way,” he said on his website, www.michael.schumacher.de "> www.michael.schumacher.de .
Forget a steak dinner or a Rolex watch. Tom Brady is helping the New England Patriots’ offensive linemen ride in style.
Brady agreed to serve three years as honorary chairman of a bike ride sponsored by Audi that raises money for those with intellectual disabilities.
As part of the deal, Patriots offensive linemen Matt Light, Stephen Neal, Dan Koppen, Logan Mankins and Nick Kaczur will get the use of new Audi Q7 SUVs for the next year.
“Now you’ll be well-protected, just like you make me feel . . . sometimes,” Brady cracked to his linemen at a news conference for the event.
Power to the people
TV personality Drew Carey is a minority owner of Seattle’s Major League Soccer expansion team that will begin play in 2009, and he made it clear that it will be a team of the fans.
Carey announced the formation of the Sounders FC Members Assn., a fan group that will have the power to fire or retain the team’s general manager every four years.
A minimum of 10,000 votes will be required for a valid vote, but it will be binding, Carey said.
“I never wanted to be a part of MLS unless I could bring this membership aspect,” he said. “This is going to work, and it’s going to be exciting. Other franchises are going to see what it means, giving the fans a voice.”
Fairways and greenbacks
The World Series of Golf this week revealed plans for a high-stakes tournament with rules loosely based on Texas Hold ‘Em poker.
Players bet what they want on each hole and can raise after each shot, go all-in or fold and move on to the next hole. The player with the fewest strokes each hole wins the pot for that hole.
The entry fee would be $200,000 with the winner taking home $1.5 million, but World Series of Golf President Terry Leiweke said players have asked for even bigger purses.
“Clearly they want to play big, high-stakes events,” Leiweke said.
Babe Ruth was 36 years 196 days when he hit No. 600. Griffey, 38 years 180 days, has 40 days to avoid passing Sammy Sosa as the oldest to reach the mark.
Rick Dutrow Jr., the trainer of Big Brown, says he might have a fight on his hands with his 13-year-old daughter, Molly, after the horse won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness.
“She might ask for a bigger allowance,” he said.
Times staff writer Larry Stewart contributed to this report.