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SPORTS RAGE: First there were the fan assaults of baseball umpires, coaches and players. Then there were last weekend's brawls, with players duking it out at a Clemson-Carolina college football game soon after the already infamous Friday Night Fights on the floor and in the stands at an Indiana-Detroit NBA game. And don't even get us started on hockey. Pretty soon, the only sport safely without fights will be pro wrestling.

HUBRIS INCORPORATED: The new Congress has yet to be sworn in and already the Republican right is swaggering down the corridors like kings. First, they changed their own ethics rules to protect Tom DeLay, the ethically challenged House majority leader who would otherwise have to relinquish his leadership post if a Texas grand jury indicts him. Then a member secretly inserted language into a spending bill that would have allowed two committee chairmen and their staffs to peek at Americans' tax returns.

Meanwhile, a prime suspect in that tax gambit, Rep. Ernest Istook, R-Okla., inserted other language in that bill to slash or eliminate transportation funds expected by several moderate Northeastern Republicans, including Rep. Sherwood Boehlert of New York. The moderates' sin: supporting Amtrak.

These guys can't help themselves. They are already making the case for their eventual rejection.

SAMMY SAYS: Assemblyman Sam Hoyt -- did we mention that he wants to be mayor of Buffalo? -- issued a press release this week calling on Republicans in the Erie County Legislature "to put aside political posturing and begin to identify viable strategies to solve the county's budget crisis."

This is the same Sam Hoyt who voted four years ago for a bill that exploded the state's Medicaid costs, which are largely to blame for the fiscal crisis that has gripped virtually every county in this state.

Instead of berating Republican county legislators, Hoyt should turn his attention to the Assembly Democrats who stand in the way of Medicaid reform.

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