Slovenian leader makes good on promise to shine shoes

In the lame history of lame stunts by lame politicians regarding upcoming sporting events, there finally has come a creative turn.

Rising so very far above the dreaded lame wager between mayors or governors or legislators, the 46-year-old Slovenian Prime Minister Borut Pahor promised that if Slovenia could shock Russia to reach the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, he would shine the players’ shoes.

Well, when little Slovenia (population 2 million) did shock big Russia (population 140 million) on Wednesday night, it loosed loud celebrations in the capital of Ljubljana, rowdy dancing in the stadium in Maribor and one quiet gesture in the dressing room of Slovenia.


As the smallest nation in the 32-team World Cup rejoiced and the newspaper Dnevnik prepared its headline, “To Africa With Clean Shoes,” Pahor told TV Slovenia, “I just cleaned the players’ shoes, but I admit I did not clean them thoroughly.”

Trivia time

To whom does the record for youngest winner of the European Order of Merit currently belong?

Dubai’s weirdest import

In Dubai’s glittery desert for the closing European PGA event this weekend, course designer Greg Norman fielded an unexpected question from an observant journalist: Where did his course get its sand?

Norman didn’t know, whereupon the tour’s communications director Gordon Simpson chimed in helpfully, “North Carolina, I believe.”

“North Carolina,” Norman said.

Explained Norman, “The desert is not the right granular shape for bunkers.”

Park it

As the Lawrence (Kan.) Journal-World reported that Kansas Coach Mark Mangino gave a 10-minute, close-talk berating to a working university student who had doled Mangino his 23rd parking ticket for the same loading zone, one detail revealed Mangino as stunningly clueless about American college-town morals.

This particular ticket came in summer 2007, after a 6-6 season and before a 12-1 season, when everybody knows that if you wait until after you’re 12-1, you can park wherever you want and the citizenry will recommend the student’s expulsion if not deportation.

Dip much below his current 5-5, though, and the unknown student parking man could win a praise for bravery.

Trivia answer

Severiano Ballesteros finished atop the European money list in 1976 -- at age 19.

And finally

When a reader suggested it’s disrespectful of the woeful Cleveland Browns (1-8) to wear some of the numbers of past Browns greats, Bud Shaw of the Cleveland Plain Dealer replied, “The league insists you wear numbers. But my understanding is that if they lose to Detroit, Browns Alumni will lobby [owner] Randy Lerner to switch to fractions.”