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Starting Lineup

By Dan Steinberg and Desmond Bieler
Washington Post Staff Writers
Monday, March 28, 2005; Page D2

The ever-entrepreneurial P. Diddy is at it again with the announcement of "Sean John Wheels," precision-forged aluminum rims guaranteed to give your ride that special touch of pimpitude. As the Puffster puts it, "Wheels have become a fashion statement," and we couldn't agree more -- just check out that blingin' spare tire Fat Joe carries around. But aren't there plenty of other car parts just waiting for the right brand name?

Body Kits, Larry Bigbie: Orioles outfielder sits out Nats game with a lingering neck strain. For the first time in this budding rivalry, it's Peter Angelos's side that has to deal with a persistent pain in the neck.

Shifters, the Terps: Advance to the NIT semifinals, thus turning the local basketball scene on its head. Usually at this time of year, it's the Wizards who are playing meaningless games.

Shut-Off Timers, Barry Bonds: Reports indicate injured slugger could face charges of money laundering. Well, at least his cash is clean.

Smooth Steps, Allan Ray: In close loss to UNC, Villanova guard has late basket waved off for traveling. Immediately after the game, Ray announced his decision to go pro, just so he'd never have to worry about getting that call again.

Performance Monitors, Salim Stoudamire: Despite sub-par game against Illinois, Arizona Wildcat emerges from tourney widely regarded as a better shooter than J.J. Redick. However, Dick Vitale says he still gives the nod to the Dukie, if only for his "dreamy eyes."

Mufflers, Larry Hughes: Goes public with complaints that Washington's offense has grown too conservative. Oh, just trade him to the Jets already.

Blow Off Valves, Brendan Haywood and Kwame Brown: Get into heated exchange during a game but, not surprisingly, no punches were thrown. Of course, with the sort of toughness the Wizards' big men have displayed lately, either would have had a better chance of getting hit by Paula Abdul.

Hitch Covers, "American Idol" producers: Phone number goof-up leads to revote. The show still received more than 31 million calls, plus several intriguing messages from Pat O'Brien.

Shock Absorbers, John Beilein: West Virginia coach calls his team's NCAA tournament experience "almost magical." No arguments here; those plucky Mountaineers somehow took a 20-point lead and made it disappear.

Bug Shields, Darren Oliver: Colorado hurler chased from mound by swarm of bees. That's a nice change from the assault of bats that normally drives Rockies pitchers out of games.

Um . . . Pistons, Detroit Pistons: Bomb threat delays start of home game against Pacers. No explosives were found, although there were reports of a mushroom cloud over Ben Wallace's head.

Lowering Kits, Sidney Ponson: More off-field troubles have onetime ace plummeting down the Orioles' rotation. Like Louisville, he's got No. 1 talent but is stuck in the No. 4 slot -- another case of a bad seed.

Eyebrows, Charlie Villanueva: Just because.

Benched: The General, the Entry Draft, Sammy's glove, Haslett's 'roids, Mark McGwire's ticket to Cooperstown, all hope at Azteca Stadium.

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