The force will be with them

Times Staff Writer

An epic contest will be waged today at the Champions League final in Russia between soccer's most notorious fans (England) and one of the world's toughest police departments (Moscow).

"You can't imagine how much force we're going to have on the streets," Yuri Abramov, commander of the Moscow mounted police, told Bloomberg. "No policeman is going to stay home."

According to reports, plans call for intoxicated fans to be arrested, stripped and given cold showers, with the more cantankerous getting handcuffed to beds. In other words, the basic youth hostile treatment, or "Europe on $5 bail a day."

The police buildup led Ken Miles, international coordinator for the U.K. Football Supporters' Federation, to say: "We've not found Moscow to be the most hospitable place for English football fans."

And in other news, Chelsea and Manchester United will play in the game.

Trivia time

Boston Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek caught his major league record fourth no-hitter Monday. Who caught Nolan Ryan's four no-hitters with the Angels?

Cashing out

TV talker Charles Barkley, at the end of the interview discussing his gambling debts, was asked whom he liked in Game 7 of the San Antonio Spurs-New Orleans Hornets series.

"I'm going to stick with my original prediction," Barkley said. "I picked New Orleans from the start, I can't change now."

Spurs 91, Hornets 82. Just a little insight into how a guy can lose $400,000 in just a few days.

Bronx clue

Gino Castignoli, the construction worker who put a David Ortiz jersey in cement under the new Yankee Stadium, has another game of hide and seek for the Yankees.

MSNBC reported that Castignoli is claiming to friends that he also placed a 2004 American League Championship Series scorecard in the stadium.

At this point it's clear that Castignoli should have consulted Red Sox fans on what they would like to have buried in cement . . . after Bucky Dent, that is.

Labor day

NFL owners opted out of the collective bargaining agreement Tuesday, meaning the NFL could be faced with a work stoppage . . . in three years.

The rhetoric has already started. A sample from

Commissioner Roger Goodell: "The agreement isn't working, and we're looking to get a more fair and equitable deal."

Union President Gene Upshaw: "If we can't reach agreement by 2010, then we go to no man's land, which is 2011."

Tough talk. Still, it would be hard to imagine a commissioner and union president taking a sport into a damaging lockout that ends with a lost season and games being shown on something called "Versus."

No mas!

The never-ending sideshow that seems to have become Jose Canseco's life reached another bearded-lady moment this week.

Publications in Philadelphia and New Jersey have reported a challenger is being sought to face Canseco in a boxing match in Atlantic City on July 12.

The line forms behind Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and Rafael Palmeiro.

Trivia answer

Jeff Torborg, Art Kusnyer, Tom Egan and Ellie Rodriguez. There's a peek into Ryan days with the Angels. That crew (with a combined .222 lifetime average) is not so much a "Murderers Row" as it is a "Community Service/Time Served Bunch."

And finally

Penn State Coach Joe Paterno, speaking at a fundraiser a day after being treated for dehydration in a hospital, told the crowd, "Yesterday I didn't think this event was getting enough press; I decided to go to the hospital and see if I could spruce it up a bit," the Austin Statesman reported.

Not bad, Joe. Maybe you should give up your day job.


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