The Boston Red Sox wanted fans to vote early and often for Nomar Garciaparra.
Chris Nandor, of Carver, Mass., took the promotional campaign to heart and voted for the shortstop almost 40,000 times via the Internet.
"Well, when I first heard he won, I wasn't sure, but I thought it could've been me," Nandor said Tuesday night. "But I also thought it could've been other people in addition to me."
However, Major League Baseball and its computer people detected the ballot-box stuffing and threw out Nandor's votes.
"We've outlined certain procedures that catch 99 percent of the potential problems out there," Alex Kam, Major League Baseball's director of new media, said yesterday. "It does happen quite frequently, [but] they filter it out."
Garciaparra overtook Yankees rival Derek Jeter in the final week of counting, winning 1,089,974 to 1,069,528. But baseball says hackers didn't influence the vote.
Individuals voting on the Internet were limited to 22 votes--matching the average number of home games for teams during the voting period.
Kam says Nandor used a computer programming language to evade limits on how many times a person could vote on the Internet.
On May 19, Nandor tried to vote 14,000 times, Kam said. And the Boston Globe reported Tuesday that Nandor cast 25,259 more votes for Garciaparra from June 25 to 27. The ballots also voted for Red Sox players Scott Hatteberg, John Valentin and Jose Offerman.
Nandor said when he heard Garciaparra had garnered enough votes to start, he suspected perhaps he had had something to do with it. What apparently did in Nandor was laziness. In his first attempt in May, Nandor used the same e-mail address. In his last attempt, in June, he used the same phone number and ZIP code. Nandor wrote that he set his computer to run repeatedly, then went to a barbecue.
"I think in large part I did it just because the all-star game was going to be in Fenway, so I felt Nomar deserved a start on his home turf, with the incredible season he's had," he said in an e-mail to the Globe. "I still might have done it if the game had been in New York, but it makes me feel good to have this justification for my actions."
Because Nandor didn't vary his basic bits of information, the systems administrators at CBS SportsLine, the Internet site that conducted the voting, caught on quickly, Kam said.
Jon Orwant, a doctoral candidate at MIT's Media Lab who inadvertently tipped off the Globe about his friend Nandor's program, remains unconvinced that the system can withstand a clever hacker.
"If they claim their system is foolproof, they're wrong," he said. "I'll prove it to them next year."
Kam says baseball will be ready.
Titleist Sues Nike
You're not likely to see Tiger Woods wearing Reebok golf shoes or an adidas T-shirt. That's because Nike pays him about $40 million to wear theirs. Nike says it has no problem with two of its television ads that show the golfer swinging a club at a golf ball--even though the club and ball are made by one of Nike's competitors, which pays Woods about $20 million to promote its clubs and golf balls. But now Titleist--the company whose clubs and balls are endorsed by Woods--is swinging back, with a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Boston. The suit, filed on June 25, claims that the Nike ads violate Woods's exclusive contract to endorse Titleist balls and clubs. . . .
Three days after winning his first title in only his sixth event, 19-year-old Spanish golfer Sergio Garcia fired a 9-under 62 in the first round of the Loch Lomond tournament in Glasgow, Scotland. While the score matched the course record of 62 set two years ago, it did not count as a record because players were able to clean balls on the rain-soaked fairways.
Tyson Sets Date
Mike Tyson's calendar has been finalized for the rest of the year. Now he needs to line up a few opponents for his latest comeback. Tyson will return to the ring Oct. 2 in Las Vegas for his first fight since stopping Francois Botha in the fifth round Jan. 17, his manager said. No opponent has been selected for the fight, but possible opponents include Zeljko Mavrovic of Croatia or Axel Schulz of Germany.
Docked by the Bay
It looks as if Travis Pastrana was too extreme for ESPN's "X Games." The 15-year-old from Annapolis celebrated his victory in the motorcycle stunt competition by soaring triumphantly into the San Francisco Bay.
That's where organizers of the offbeat games drew the line. ESPN has refused to pay Pastrana his $10,000 prize.
"I was just having a good time. And yes, I was really surprised by the reaction when I got out," Pastrana said.
ESPN used Pastrana's prize money to hire a salvage crew to pull the motorcycle from the bay.
U.S. Fed Cup Team
Monica Seles, Venus and Serena Williams and Mary Joe Fernandez were named to the U.S. Fed Cup team that will take on Italy this month, team captain Billie Jean King said. The U.S.-Italy semifinal match is scheduled for July 24-25 at the Tennis Club of Ancona in Ancona, Italy.
CAPTION: Titleist has sued Nike, claiming Tiger Woods ads violate his exclusive deal to endorse Titleist clubs and balls.