Howard Dean's presidential run was ruined by The Scream, but Sammy Sosa's career was sidetracked by The Sneeze. Last season, while playing for the Chicago Cubs, the slugger missed a month of ball games because he strained a back ligament while sneezing. Still, the hotshot -- who became a household name when he raced Mark McGwire to hit 61 home runs in 1998 -- pulled through with 35 home runs in 126 games.
That makes him the most watchable guy on the Baltimore Orioles' 2005 roster. Sosa was traded to the birds in a one-season, $25-million deal. But Chicagoans were ready to get rid of him, especially since he walked off the field after only 15 minutes of the Cubs' last game. His sunny image was tarnished back in 2003, when he used a corked bat to slam a ball against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays (did you really need it against the Devil Rays, dude?). Whether because of hits or crybaby fits, Sosa's star power will draw fans to games. See him when the Orioles undergo spring training at Fort Lauderdale Stadium (1301 NW 55th St., Fort Lauderdale). Practices start Monday at 9 a.m., and admission is free; games start on March 4. Call 954-523-3309. -- Deirdra Funcheon
In this age of Xtreme sports, jackasses, and adrenaline junkies, you're not going to catch much croquet on ESPN2. That's not to say this stately sport can't be every bit as fun as mountain biking or heli-skiing. Sure there's little to no risk of serious injury, but there's something to be said for a sport you can play without putting down your cocktail.(Try that on a street luge!) This weekend, the National Croquet Center's 2005 Croquet Festival offers the perfect opportunity to hang up the bungee cord and try something that really requires balls. With ten acres of lush greens, the NCC is the largest dedicated croquet facility in the world. It's an excellent opportunity to socialize with fellow croqueters while sporting a snazzy cardigan. The tournament takes place Monday, February 21, through Sunday, February 27, at the National Croquet Center (700 Florida Mango Rd., West Palm Beach). Call 561-478-2300, or visit www.croquetnational.com. -- Paul A. Leone
Golf for a good cause
Tee up for a great cause this Saturday, during the National Gay and Lesbian Advocate Golf Classic at Palm Aire Golf and Country Club (2600 Palm Aire Dr. N., Pompano Beach). The event includes 18 holes of golf, a dinner reception, an awards presentation, and a silent auction. For those who need some help with their game, Chip Arndt, a former Ivy League golf champion at Yale and winner of the Amazing Race, will conduct a skills clinic before the tournament on the driving range. Tournament proceeds benefit the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and their local chapters. Registration costs $150 per player. For more information, call 323-857-8747, or log onto www.taskforcegolfclassic.org. -- Russ Evans
Who can forget Sarah Hughes' stunning victory in the 2002 Winter Olympics? Um... how about those Patriots? OK, so three years ago is ancient history in the sports world. And it's probably why Hughes takes part in this year's Stars on Ice tour. She joins Todd Eldredge, Yuka Sato, and others Friday at the Office Depot Center (1 Panthers Pkwy., Sunrise). Tickets cost $27 to $97. -- Jason Budjinski