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Peter Couture, Times/tbt* Staff Writer

Peter Couture

Peter Couture grew up in St. Petersburg and is a graduate of the University of South Florida. He has worked for the Tampa Bay Times full-time since graduating from USF in 1989. He was a member of the startup team for the daily edition of tbt*, where he is the editor of the weekly Rides, Office and Cuisine sections. He also edits the daily SportsTalk page. He co-writes the weekly auto review column, the Daily Drivers.

Phone: (727) 892-2938

Email: pcouture@tampabay.com

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  1. Record sale, record homers and record assists: It's Sports Talk

    Sports

    $2.2B

    The reported billion-dollar sale price of the Houston Rockets, the most ever paid for an NBA team. The team and the buyer, Tilman J. Fertitta, announced the sale Tuesday, but did not disclose the price. Fertitta, 60, owns Landry's, which includes more than 500 restaurants as well as casinos and hotels. He also is the host of a reality show, Billion Dollar Buyer, in which he travels around the country visiting small businesses and considering buying them. The previous Rockets owner, Leslie Alexander, is in for a tidy profit: He bought the team in 1993 for $85 million. As the New York Times points out: "For Mr. Fertitta to match the current seller's return, the Rockets would need to sell for about $60 billion in 2042." The deal, which also includes the operation of the city's Toyota Center, still requires the approval of the NBA's board of governors. "This is a life-long dream come true," Fertitta said of his purchase. Fertitta has a net worth of $3.1 billion, according to Forbes. His cousins, Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta, are casino and entertainment industry moguls who sold the MMA brand UFC for $4 billion in 2016.

    Career assists, the number that gave Sue Bird of the Seattle Storm the WNBA's all-time record last week when she passed Ticha Penicheiro. Bird, whose career assists stand at 2,610, told SLAM Online of her record: "There's been longevity there, consistency there, but also it's assists so you need some amazing players around you at the same time. I've been really fortunate to play as long as I have and be surrounded by some great players." Bird has two NCAA titles (UConn), two WNBA crowns (Storm) and four Olympic gold medals.

    The estimated cost of the custom SUV renovation — plus that of a hired driver — that the Chargers' Philip Rivers had made for his commute to Los Angeles. The quarterback still calls San Diego home despite the Chargers' move to L.A. So he travels in what amounts to a luxury mobile office. The vehicle's interior, pictured above, includes two seats similar to those on a private jet, a 40-inch video screen, WiFi, satellite TV and a refrigerator. "My two biggest things were my family time and my preparation and what I owe this football team," Rivers told the San Diego Union Tribune. "I was not going to sacrifice either of them in any big proportion. ... This allows me to get home in the 6 to 7 hour, which is when I got home the last 11 years, and it allows me to watch all or more of the film I watched before." Depending on traffic, Rivers' commute is less than an hour-and-a-half trip.



    4

    $200,000-plus

    Homers in a game, which has happened twice this season. J.D. Martinez, left, of the Diamondbacks was the latest to accomplish the rare feat, doing it Monday against the Dodgers. In June, Scooter Gennett of the Reds, also had four. Martinez's four-homer game is the 18th in history — making it rarer than a perfect game.

    2,600...

    Chris Paul, above, is a new Rocket, joining James Harden, below right, and owner Tilman Fertitta. AP
  2. Top 10 Rays: Hey Oakland, we have our favorite Rays too, um, speaking of Sugar Ray Leonard

    Ml

    Do you have a favorite Ray?

    Here's why I ask: tbt* baseball writer Marc Topkin points out that the A's trolled the Rays by listing the "Top 10 Rays" on the scoreboard Monday at the Oakland Coliseum. Of course, the list had nothing to do with the Tampa Bay Rays and everything to do with being cheeky.

    Hey, the A's ballpark listicle got some interesting reactions on social media, so, let's play along....

    Marc Topkin/tbt*
  3. The Daily Drivers: Smart Fortwo

    Autos

    Peter drove the Smart Fortwo when it was first introduced in the U.S. market in 2009. At the time, he was impressed with the tiny car's interior roominess, dismayed by its rough-shifting transmission and wary of its potential price.

    Fast-forward almost a decade, and the car — now in its second-generation here — hasn't changed much. You still get quirky styling — both interior and exterior — surprising headroom, a rough idle and parking-space supremacy. The transmission, thankfully, has been improved. What commuters don't get is a vehicle that's comfortable on longer drives, gets fuel mileage (36 mpg on premium gas), or inspires a lot of driver confidence. ...

    Compared to other cars, the Fortwo takes up very little space.  [LYRA SOLOCHEK  |  Times]
  4. The Daily Drivers: 2017 Audi R8 V10 Plus

    Autos

    We've driven the first-generation Audi R8 several times over the years and have always loved its blend of luxury and super-car performance. Quite simply, the R8 is one of our dream cars. There was no 2016 model, so we were eager to experience the second-generation R8 that debuted for 2017 and in a version — the higher-performance V10 Plus — that we had not driven.

    The V10 Plus ups the regular R8's horsepower by 70 to 610 and throws in other go-fast features that include carbon-ceramic brakes, an even sportier suspension and a fixed rear spoiler. There's even an extra "Performance" selectable drive mode....

    The sport seats have integrated headrests and good bolstering.  [LYRA SOLOCHEK | Times]
  5. The Daily Drivers Update: 2017 Honda Civic Touring sedan

    Autos

    After last year's redesign, Honda keeps expanding the Civic family for 2017. There's now a hatchback, for example, joining the coupe and sedan, and we can't wait to drive the sporty Si and high-performance Civic Type R models.

    As for the regular coupe we drove, Honda still strives for a sporty look and driving experience through its four trim levels. There are two engines — including the 1.5-liter, 174-horsepower turbo we drove in the top Touring trim. It's excellent, with stout acceleration and no turbo lag. The two bottom trims have a traditional 2.0-liter 158 horsepower inline four-cylinder. The base LX has a 6-speed manual gearbox while the rest of the line gets a CVT. ...

  6. The Daily Drivers: 2017 Corolla iM

    Autos

    Have you already forgotten Scion, the youth-oriented brand that was axed last year? Well, some of its models live on, rebadged for 2017 as Toyotas by the parent company. One of those models, the iM hatchback, is now the Corolla iM. We liked it as a stylish entry-level car with a fun-to-drive feel, and that hasn't changed much despite the new badging. The Corolla iM is offered in only one trim level, but it is a fairly well-equipped one that includes alloy wheels, rearview camera, front collision warning and a console touchscreen on the stylish dash. Of the few options offered, we'd recommend the Charge Package that includes two USB connections ($189). The iM has a 138-horsepower, 1.8-liter 4-cylinder that is adequate in daily city driving but you may find lacking in get-up-and-go, especially on highway merges and passing. Choosing the manual transmission over the available CVT helps the acceleration somewhat and is our preference. If you are looking to further stand out? Try the Spring Green Metallic paint....

    2017 Toyota Corolla iM profile.  [LYRA SOLOCHEK  |  Times]
  7. The Daily Drivers: 2016 Toyota Prius Four

    Autos

    It's always interesting to see automotive trends evolve. Take hybrid-car design. When the first Honda Insight and later the Toyota Prius debuted, they featured designs that hinted vaguely at futurism and carried a look-at-me-I'm-different aesthetic that seemed to be the automotive version of the running shoes with individual toes.

    Fast forward several years and most hybrids have been assimilated into already existing models or their looks have been toned down. Then there's the Toyota Prius, which if not doubling down on those "I'm-different" hybrid roots, is not abandoning it. We drove a 2016 Prius Four in Sea Glass Pearl and it carries over to the new model year. The Four is the second-from-the-top trim of the Prius models. This fuel sipper gets you 54 miles per gallon in the city, 50 on the highway. ...

    2016 Toyota Prius Four  [LYRA SOLOCHEK  |  Times]
  8. Let us knowWho do you think had the best season in the history of sports? Email us at tbteditors@tampabay.com or tweet your pick to @tbtnewspaper.

    Sports

    Rickey Henderson, 1982

    From a statistics standpoint, averaging a triple-double is not the most accurate measure of dominance. There are better ways to quantify value than big round numbers, and MVP voters understood that in 1962 when they honored Bill Russell instead of Oscar Robertson.

    But averaging a triple-double, both then and now, is almost unbelievably cool. And if you want to find a statistical feat as difficult and as cool as what Westbrook did this season, you'd be hard-pressed to outdo Rickey Henderson's 1982 season for the Oakland A's....

    Former NHL hockey players, from left, Wayne Gretzky, Bobby Orr and Mario Lemieux speak during a news conference prior to an NHL 100 ceremony, Friday, Jan. 27, 2017, in Los Angeles. The NHL 100 celebrates the 100 Greatest NHL Players and honors 100 years of NHL hockey. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
  9. Some officials (not all) confront abuse

    Sports

    It must have been uncomfortable for Rick Adams, chief of Paralympic sports for the United States Olympic Committee, to sit between two gymnasts during the congressional hearing about sexual abuse Tuesday.

    To his right, Jamie Dantzscher started crying during her testimony. She described how she was molested by the former USA Gymnastics national team doctor Larry Nassar when she was a teenager....

  10. The Daily Drivers: 2017 Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG

    Autos

    The Mercedes C63 AMG Coupe is a classic muscle car. Sure it has the luxury Mercedes-Benz heritage and pedigree. The C Class — similar in size to a Mustang or Camaro — has been redesigned for 2017. And like the Ford or Chevy, it shares a large engine, small two-door body and rear-wheel drive.

    Appearance: In this, the C63 doesn't have the sometimes overwrought design of a traditional muscle car. Instead, its lines — the rounded roof, creased fenders and pillarless windows — flow naturally yet connote power. Lyra calls it "breathtakingly beautiful," and the Mercedes-Benz fan who approached her to get a better look also thought so. Our car was helped by its deep Brilliant Blue Metallic paint, a gorgeous hue set off by cross-spoke black wheels with red brake calipers. Up front, the "diamond" grille carries a huge M-B badge, perhaps the most ostentatious thing about the car....

    The 8.4-inch screen is free standing at the top of the center console. [LYRA SOLOCHEK  |  Times]
  11. The Daily Drivers Update: 2017 Toyota 86

    Autos

    When Toyota ended its youth-oriented Scion division, one of the models it kept was one of our favorites, the minimalist FR-S sports car. It's now called the Toyota 86, which is what it was sold as globally. The car, a joint venture with Subaru that badges it as the BRZ, pairs rear-wheel drive, skinny tires and a 2.0-liter horizontally opposed four-cylinder that makes 205 horsepower when paired — as it should be — with the available six-speed manual transmission which gets 21 miles per gallon in the city and 28 highway. (Automatic is also available, with a slightly better mpg of 24/32.) That's all such an intoxicating cocktail that the enthusiast may not mind those modest power numbers or even the equally modest cabin. That's because if you're the type of driver who likes do his or her own shifting, find twisty roads a challenge and even get the rear end loose on occasion, then the 86 is a pure joy. We noticed a slightly more aggressive exterior — a larger air intake, Toyota 86 badging, streamline bumpers and LED head- and taillights. Mechanically, the changes include new shock tuning and spring rate, differential gear ratio change, and engine tuning that bumps up the torque and horsepower. Peter thought the gear-shift action to be slightly stiffer. Lyra thought the car drove a bit stiffer. All that really matters is the fun is still there, as is the enthusiast-on-a-budget price point of less than $30,000....

    The no-frills analog gauges glow a sporty red. [LYRA SOLOCHEK  |  Times]
  12. Review: Disney's Rivers of Light show turns on the H2-oh!

    Blog

    Last spring, Disney’s Animal Kingdom teased the media with a brief preview of Rivers of Light, a theatrical show  that carried the promise — and the burden — of being a signature event designed to keep guests into the park’s new evening hours. Disney anticipated a summer opening.

    What it didn’t anticipate was delay after unexplained — technical issues? — delay. Cue 2017: Finally, Friday night, came the official premiere of Rivers of Light, and we  generally liked what Disney calls a “visual mix of water, fire, nature and light.” Well, that description is certainly accurate....

    After many delays, Disney's Rivers of Light nighttime show finally opened at Animal Kingdom this week.
  13. next seasonConnecticut is planning to suit up Azurá Stevens, a 6-6 transfer from Duke who many believe would have been its best player this season. The Huskies will also add Megan Walker, rated by some as the nation's No. 1 recruit. They return six of seven rotation players.— New York Times

    Sports

    You don't know what to do with yourself, do you? Spring training isn't here yet, and who cares about Tom Brady's missing Super Bowl jersey, and golfers are still limbering up, and the NBA won't be decided until June. That leaves college basketball, which is sort of a mess with everyone but Gonzaga taking multiple losses. Then there are the UConn women, whom you wouldn't even think of looking at. Right? Which makes you a dope, for choosing boredom over excellence....

    Gabby Williams drives to the basket as South Carolina’s Alaina Coates defends. AP
  14. The Daily Drivers: 2017 Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG

    Autos

    The Mercedes C63 AMG Coupe is a classic muscle car. Sure it has the luxury Mercedes-Benz heritage and pedigree. The C Class — similar in size to a Mustang or Camaro — has been redesigned for 2017. And like the Ford or Chevy, it shares a large engine, small two-door body and rear-wheel drive.

    Appearance: In this, the C63 doesn't have the sometimes overwrought design of a traditional muscle car. Instead, its lines — the rounded roof, creased fenders and pillarless windows — flow naturally yet connote power. Lyra calls it "breathtakingly beautiful," and the Mercedes-Benz fan who approached her to get a better look also thought so. Our car was helped by its deep Brilliant Blue Metallic paint, a gorgeous hue set off by cross-spoke black wheels with red brake calipers. Up front, the "diamond" grille carries a huge M-B badge, perhaps the most ostentatious thing about the car....

    [LYRA SOLOCHEK  |  Times]
  15. Required reading for Super Bowl Sunday

    Sports

    If you're among those who watch precisely one NFL game each year, yet want to sound like a real fan at Sunday's party, we've got you covered with Super Bowl facts, talking points and some nerd statistics:

    The TV team

    Joe Buck and Troy Aikman are in the booth for Fox TV while Tampa's Erin Andrews and Chris Myers are on the sidelines.

    The site...

    New England Patriots middle linebacker Dont'a Hightower does an interview during a media availability for the NFL Super Bowl 51 football game Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2017, in Houston. The Patriots will face the Atlanta Falcons in the Super Bowl Sunday. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel) TXCR205