THREE UP ...
1. Can't wait to see middleweight champ Kelly Pavlik back in the ring. His absence hasn't helped the sweet science -- nor Kelly's bank account. There are big-money paydays out there for good fighters, and tough guy like Pavlik (aka "The Ghost"), sidelined 10 months with a string of injuries, should scoop up some of it. So news that he'll be fighting Miguel Espino on Dec. 19 is something to applaud.
2. I have a friend who lives and dies with the Raiders, so he has to be pleased that Bruce Gradkowski, the AFC Player of the Week, has emerged as the team's quarterback of the future. NFL teams have had their hits and misses at that position in recent years, so maybe instead of wasting No. 1 picks on quarterbacks, teams might be wiser to follow what the Raiders did: look for somebody else's discard. Who wouldn't take "Grad" over JaMarcus Russell, Matt Leinart or Brady Quinn?
3. I'm betting freshman John Wall will do a 'Melo Anthony: play one season in college, win a NCAA title and then head to the NBA. In this early hoops season, Wall has been as solid as the Great Wall and hotter than a wall of fire. There might be a better freshman than Wall, but he hasn't shown himself yet. Enjoy looking at this "great" Wall in "Bluegrass Country" while you can.
THREE DOWN ...
1. Some crooner once sang about fools falling in love, but someone also should have sang about how fools act like fools, as Greg Baker, the executive director of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, did when he signaled that the museum will jettison the figure who helped build the institution. Essentially, Baker slammed the museum's front door in the face of Buck O'Neil.
2. I like Brian Kelly and praise what he did in building a powerhouse football program at the University of Cincinnati. Kelly, 48, has, by all accounts, been as media friendly as a coach can be, which is why he's heading to Notre Dame to take over its football program. So why did Kelly sully that image? His decision -- or was it the university's -- to uninvite media to a team banquet Thursday night smacks of the kind of secrecy that is unbecoming of a coach with Kelly's reputation. Looks more like a Charlie Weis move than a Brian Kelly move. Welcome to South Bend, coach!
3. Jack Nicklaus couldn't be more wrong. As a public figure, he and other star athletes are rich material for tabloids and paparazzi, whether he thinks so or not. If star athletes like Tiger Woods want to stay out of TMZ, The National Enquirer and Us, then stay clear of scandal, which the sex-addicted Tiger did not do. As the Golden Bear put it: "Our public is pretty forgiving at times. Time usually heals all wounds. I think the hardest thing is obviously his family. That's a private matter for him and his family." Jack, please!
NOTHING ACROSS ...
In the frozen tundra of Cleveland, the fading Steelers lost to the Browns last night, 13-6. And who said hell couldn't freeze over?