The dirtier, the better. That's how Scott Baltusnik measures the success of the annual Grass & Mud Volleyball Tournament.
Near the DJ, food, and beer booths, more than 50 teams follow official U.S.A. Volleyball rules on 20 grass courts. But farther back, at least 150 other teams get down and dirty in 40 mud pits filled with more than 200,000 gallons of water. The result is a filthy mess. "Most women just wear bikini tops and shorts," says Baltusnik, the tournament's organizer. "But always wear a bathing suit underneath, unless you're going to bare it all."
And many do. By the end of the day, most of the mud volleyballers are caked in dirt as they head to the outdoor shower area and the battalion of fire hoses set up to wash them down. "Everything just gets muddy," Baltusnik says. "Thousands of shoes, thousands of shorts, thousands of everything that people are wearing. They basically take off all their clothes and leave them there." The volleying starts at 9 a.m. Saturday at the Cuyahoga County Airport, 26300 Curtiss Wright Parkway in Richmond Heights. It's free to watch, $25 to play in the mud, and $30 to play on the grass; call 440-708-2975. . -- Cris Glaser
High-speed poker comes to Lake Erie.
Although some of the fastest boats in the world will be prowling Lake Erie on Saturday as part of the Cleveland High Stakes All Inclusive Poker Run, it's not the need for speed that fuels contestants. It's the luck of the draw.
Starting at the Lakeside Yacht Club, boaters will make their way to five checkpoints (including the Lorain Lighthouse, Cedar Point, and Put-in-Bay), where they will receive playing cards. The winner of the run isn't the first boat to cross the finish line; it's the participant who finishes with the best poker hand. "It's the fastest-growing segment of boating," explains spokesman Josh Stein. "People would much rather spend their money on poker runs and not have to deal with all the rules and regulations of racing." It starts at 10 a.m. at the Lakeside Yacht Club, 4851 North Marginal Road. It's free to watch; call 800-324-9145. . -- Andrew McMillan
The Aeros justify their so-so record.
After an Eastern League Championship last year, the Akron Aeros have spent most of this season below the .500 mark. But don't fret. "In minor-league baseball, player development comes before wins," declares spokesman James Carpenter, who adds that Tribe cornerstones Victor Martinez (pictured), Jody Gerut, and Cliff Lee all toiled at Canal Park. The Aeros are now looking for a boost from two former first-round Indians picks -- first baseman Michael Aubrey and starting pitcher Dan Denham. Watch 'em take on the Trenton Thunder (a Yankees affiliate) at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Canal Park, 300 South Main Street in Akron. Tickets range from $7 to $10, available by calling 800-972-3767. . -- Matt Leavitt
Words 'n' Wheels
Pedaling is a prerequisite at Sunday's Scrabble Ride, and boning up on the dictionary doesn't hurt either. At the start of the 100-mile round-trip ride, each bicyclist picks seven Scrabble tiles and jots down the letters' point values. Along the route, they mentally juggle the letters to come up with the highest-scoring word for a cash prize at the post-race barbecue. It starts at 7 a.m. at Edgewater State Park (6500 Cleveland Memorial Shoreway). Admission is free; call 216-830-2667. -- Cris Glaser