Inqlings | Champ is waiting in the wings

What's eating Bill Simmons?

It's the news that Takeru Kobayashi - the world's top-ranked professional eater - won't compete Friday at the 15th annual Wing Bowl, sponsored by WIP.

So Simmons, the five-time Wing Bowl winner whose nom de guerre is El Wingador, will stay retired from wing-eating. Or so it seems now. Simmons says there's a small chance - maybe one in five - that WIP host Angelo Cataldi can persuade him to get on stage at the Wachovia Center.

The Wing Bowl field will be stocked with some of the best: The International Federation of Competitive Eating is sending contestants ranked second (Joey Chestnut, who won last year), third (Patrick Bertoletti), fourth (Sonya Thomas, who won in 2004), sixth (ChipBurger Simpson), and eighth (Richard LeFevre).

Also in the fray will be the IFOCE's fifth-ranked eater, "Humble" Bob Shoudt of Royersford. He was among those who qualified through the radio station. Wings are a stretch for Shoudt, who says that his wife and children are vegetarians and that he only rarely eats meat.

The IFOCE's George Shea says it's possible that Kobayashi will get here next year. Simmons says it'll be worth waiting for "the best in the world." Kobayashi whipped Simmons in hot-dog eating, but Simmons acknowledges that "hot dogs are his." Wing-eating takes technique.

Simmons has bigger wings to fry, anyway. He just opened a restaurant, El Wingador's To Go, at Fourth Street and Girard Avenue in the city's Northern Liberties section.

A game of chicken

Use "Wing Bowl" commercially at your peril. WIP general manager Marc Rayfield, pointing out the trademark, says he is siccing CBS Radio lawyers on assorted promotions, including a "Mini-Wing Bowl" at the Bayou in Manayunk and a "543 Wing Bowl" at Shop 543, the restaurant at the Navy Yard also known as Frog at the Yard.

Briefly noted

The battleship New Jersey's overnight encampment program is scheduled to be featured in Peter Greenberg's report on unique places to spend the night on tomorrow's Today show. The ship hosts hundreds of kids (and their parents or chaperones) every weekend on the Camden waterfront.

The Atlantic City Hilton has booked Eagles quarterback Jeff Garcia and his fiancee, Playboy Playmate Carmella DeCesare, for a meet-and-greet Saturday. It's open to gamblers (21 and older, naturally) who play slots or table games at the Hilton between 2 and 7 p.m. that day and win access to the reception.

Crafty types on TV

Local crochet masters Sharon Silverman, Julianne Eisele and Naomi Ramos shot three episodes of Uncommon Threads for the HGTV and DIY networks. On the first episode - "The Need to Bead," scheduled for 11:30 a.m. Wednesday on HGTV - the close-knit trio will crochet a beaded jewelry box, beaded bracelet, and beaded wrap with host Allison Whitlock.

Artist/designer Laura Lyn Stern of Fairmount creates a 15-foot-long tile mural backsplash made of bas-relief sculpted and glazed ceramic tile, surrounded by Venetian glass mosaics, on HGTV's Look What I Did! The episode will turn up at 6 p.m. Wednesday.

Radio report

Don't expect to hear Chris McCoy on the air anywhere until summertime at the earliest. As part of his severance with WBEB (B101), McCoy has a six-month noncompete clause. B101, saying it wanted to head in a "different direction," let him go Jan. 4 after 12 years. McCoy's former morning partner, Tiffany Hill, does the show solo. McCoy is putting his early wake-up to good use; he says he's hiking 10 miles four mornings a week.

Al Winters, most recently morning man on a smooth-jazz station in Miami, starts hosting mornings tomorrow on smooth-jazz outlet WJJZ (97.5). Winters lived until age 12 in Philly and then moved to Atlanta.

Local sports talkers Carol Doroba and Robin McConaughy, known as the Fantoo Girls on their Saturday talk show on WPEN (950), will be part of AOL Sports' online reports and podcasts from the Super Bowl in Miami. They'll start tomorrow.

Tomb it may concern

Ambassador Nabil Fahmy of Egypt and Gov. Rendell are on board to attend Saturday's opening gala of the "Tut" exhibition at the Franklin Institute, where the staff has been instructed to address the ambassador as "Your Excellency."

Police blotter

Connie Colla, gumshoe. Two guys had been snatching decorations - antique urns, pots, statues and the like - from Main Line lawns. Neighbors phoned in vehicle descriptions, and others shared tips and passed along security-camera footage. (Yes, this is the Main Line.) Colla, anchor of CN8's Your Morning, provided one key clue when she saw a guy lifting a cast-iron urn from her Lower Merion home. She says she scared him off while memorizing a license plate number. Two suspects were charged with theft.

When former 76er Chris Webber moved to Detroit, he put his house in Villanova on the market. He left it pretty much empty, except for two plasma TVs. Until last weekend. Thieves. Now it's really empty.

Contact columnist Michael Klein

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