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Hamels outshine other Philly 'reality' couples

I've been meaning to write recently about what I see as a disturbing trend: Philadelphia pro athletes being linked to "reality" television and its questionable participants in some way.

It started in late 2006 when Phillies pitcher Cole Hamels married Heidi Strobel, a contestant during the sixth season of Survivor. On the program, Strobel and another woman stripped off their clothes in exchange for Oreo cookies and peanut butter. She went on to pose naked for Playboy magazine.

Since then another Phils pitcher, Kyle Kendrick, has been dating Stephenie LaGrossa, a two-time Survivor participant. Meanwhile, there's Kendra Wilkinson of E!'s Girls Next Door. She's ditching Hugh Hefner and the Playboy Mansion for Eagles wide receiver Hank Baskett -- Hank Baskett?? -- with cameras following Wilkinson up through their June wedding for another E! series.

Kendrick and LaGrossa

Kendrick and LaGrossa

Wilkinson and Baskett

Wilkinson and Baskett

Most recently, there was a booze-filled party thrown by Kip Brennan, a nonentity who's played in 61 NHL games for 4 different teams since 2001-02 and is currently with the AHL's Hershey Bears. For some reason this party was attended by Amber Smith, currently seen on VH1's Celebrity Rehab Sober House (memo to the Sober House: the rehab doesn't seem to be helping Amber much) -- and caught on tape during this particular episode was Flyers winger Joffrey Lupul (below, at right; I think that's Brennan on the left).

This trend has annoyed me to no end recently. Most "reality" television is garbage, and I don't want it tainting my teams. However, I must admit that in one case, there's more than meets the eye. World Series MVP Hamels is on the cover of the latest issue of Sports Illustrated, and in the feature article Mrs. Hamels talks about their plans to expand their family and help others:

"We're in the process of adopting an AIDS orphan from Ethiopia," she said. "Maybe two. I'm so pumped. I'd adopt six if I could. When I was five years old—I grew up in a very rural town in Missouri, and I had never even seen a black person—they asked us to draw a picture of ourselves in the future, and I drew myself holding hands with a line of tiny black stick figures. I've always wanted this." She and Cole are also preparing, under the auspices of the fledgling Hamels Foundation, to build a girls' school in Malawi. Heidi has made a couple of monthlong research trips there. "We're not just doing it because it's the Brad and Angelina plan, but because we're in the position to do it and it's the right thing to do," she said.

So I'm glad I procrastinated. Reading this, I feel better now. Not quite as good as Cole and Heidi felt during the championship parade in October (below), but...