Kalani Simpson Sidelines

Kalani Simpson

Finch sings
softball’s praises

NOW, I'm not just saying this because we get the paper at our house and my wife will occasionally -- when I put an especially exceptional Corky cartoon under her nose -- look at it. But I really don't get the Jennie Finch phenomenon.

Of course you know that Finch, in town this week with the Team USA softball squad, has set the Internet aflame recently in winning an "Hottest Female Athlete" poll. The mouse clickers got one look at Finch in some come-hither eye makeup and an "Oh, behave!" dress and it was over. She dropped defending champ Anna Kournikova like a sack of dirt. And it's been a whirlwind ever since.

How many Jennie questions has Team USA coach Mike Candrea been asked?

"Thousands," he said.

She's everywhere. She has a Web site, an agent, a logo that's Air Jordanesque.

She's hot. Officially.

The online masses have spoken.

IN PERSON, FINCH is very pretty. And sweet.

She said all the attention she has received is for softball, because that's where she was first discovered. She said networks ask her to conduct television interviews with major leaguers because as a world-class athlete she can craft her questions with unique insight. She doesn't see a seamy side to the "hotness" issue.

"It's nice," she said. "It's a compliment."

So much for the "Is this the kind of attention you want?" angle.

And that's why, Candrea said, Finch is perfect for this, in more ways than one. She can overcome this, and overwhelm it, and make it sit up and beg. She has the personality to turn computer leering into genuine goodwill, to forge real love for a sport that doesn't feel near enough.

She talked about showing everyone what a great game it is.

"I think once people realize who she is, once they get a chance to know her, they'll see she's really a great person," Candrea said.

"Inside that body is a very competitive athlete; they'll see that," he said.

"I think if there's anybody who can take it and turn it around, it's Jennie," he said.

Which is great, because while Finch is much more than just a pretty face, people aren't talking pretty face. The term is "hot," and her Internet image is all Ginger, and very little Maryann.

But all those new softball fans can't be wrong.

"I think it's phenomenal," said teammate Lisa Fernandez.

But Fernandez said the best part is this: Finch is good. She's great.

If only, I said, that were enough.

"I hope one day we will reach that age," Fernandez said.

Until then, they'll take the attention any way it comes.

See the Columnists section for some past articles.

Kalani Simpson can be reached at


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