SAN FRANCISCO -- Legendary sports talk show host Ron Barr will take his Sports Byline USA radio show to Mosul, Iraq for shows on August 22, 23 and 24, it was announced today. This is the first time that a sports talk show has originated from a military combat zone. . . .

EA SPORTS is sending a number of video games to Iraq with Barr to give out to servicemen and women. In addition, the National Football League and Sports Byline USA sponsor Blue Goo and Cracked Heel are sending gifts for Barr to give out to the troops as well.

-- Sports Byline news release, Aug. 4

Good morning, Iraaaaaaaaaq!

It's a dusty, dangerous desert out there, so turn up the volume and get some props from the warriors back home. On the line this hour, we've got Shaquille "Shaq-Fu" O'Neal; Bobby Knight, who knows a thing or three about hand-to-hand combat; Roger Staubach and David "The Admiral" Robinson, who, unlike most of you gangstas, prepared for their combat careers at actual military academies!

Just talking some epic smack to wake you up. Okay, the lines are open!

Reggie from Mahmudiyah by way of D.C., you're on the air.

No man, Shaq daddy is not in the studio with me. This ain't the USO, dogface -- your heroes don't do road games in Mosul. That's why we pay you.

No, really, Reggie, you're my hero. And for those times when the desert is at war with your skin, a case of Blue Goo for you and your crew!

Bill Willie from Baghdad by way of Shreveport, you're on the air!

Dude! Why do you think he's called "The Admiral"? They taught him how to sink a ship and dunk a biscuit, not plate a Hummer with plywood. Your bad -- he got Annapolis, you got a farm team so green the ink on the playbook ain't dry.

But you're doing a bang-up job! So the newest EA Sports "Madden NFL Special Combat Edition 2006" is on its way to you and your unit, my hero -- it kills!

Pedro, on the road to Ramadi, you are on the air. What's that? Turn down your radio, my man, we can't heeeeeeeear you. What's that, something about the Bushster's blind loyalty to Rafael Palmeiro? Refreshing, I'd say, after all the Rafi bashing. Stay tuned -- Allah willing and Tikrit don't rise, we might get America's head coach on the line, vacationing back at the ranch. He won't talk to Cindy Sheehan, but I bet he talks to us -- he likes team players, and he understands how dangerous it is here.

I salute you! Are you in the infantry? So you know what I'm saying when I ask: Can anyone in Iraq have too much Cracked Heel?

Bob from Fallujah by way of Van Nuys . . . yep, you're on the radio. What's your take? Say what? Say war? I know batting averages, man, but I don't know what you know, about playing all of Desert Storm in only 42 days for 382 U.S. lives, maybe 70 billion bucks not counting the $53 billion from the Kuwaiti, Saudi Arabian and British squads. You say we've already dropped $300 billion on this baby, with more than 1,850 dead, and we're into double-triple-quadruple overtime without an exit strategy?

What are you, Bob, some kinda insurgent? No Blue Goo for you.

C'mon people, talk to me. The lines are open!

Space available!

Author's e-mail: ealperstein@2cowherd.net

Ellen Alperstein, a California-based editor for the Los Angeles Times-Washington Post News Service, is the creator of the sports humor column "Who's on First?"