- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 3, 2003

There’s no truth to the rumor that, after that mix-up on the cover of its media guide, the University of Florida is changing its fight song to “Crocodile Rock.”

• • •

All together now:

But the biggest kick I ever got

Was doing a thing called the crocodile rock

While the other kids were rocking round the clock

We were hopping and bopping to the crocodile rock.

• • •

Wonder how Gators coach Ron Zook would look in a pair of pink Elton John glasses.

• • •

Police were dubious when Maurice Clarett reported substantial losses from a car break-in — TV and stereo equipment worth $5,000, $800 in cash, $300 in clothes and 300 compact discs. But what really made them suspicious, I hear, was when the Ohio State star back claimed to be missing the 2002 Heisman Trophy (which went to Carson Palmer).

• • •

Which reminds me: Everybody talks about Maurice winning the Heisman but, hey, what about the Clarett Jug?

• • •

News item: Emmitt Smith tells Sports Illustrated that last season “was the worst year I ever went through playing football.”

Comment: Wait ‘til he gets a load of the Cardinals.

• • •

I know it’s early, but does anyone else think “head hunter” (Patrick Ramsey’s term) Matt Bowen, the Redskins’ new free safety, might have a little Chuck Cecil in him?

• • •

I can hardly wait to write: “Bowen, who has rung more bells than the Hunchback of Notre Dame …”

• • •

The Sporting News added some interesting statistics to its annual Pro Football Guide, which just hit bookstores. Top rushing averages on artificial turf, most difficult quarterbacks to sack, longest hang times for punters — we’re talking serious stats here.

As might be expected of a 7-9 team, only a few Redskins showed up in the rankings. Champ Bailey led the league last season in passes defensed (24, two more than Houston’s Marcus Coleman). Shane Matthews tied for third in the hardest-to-sack category (nine in 246 pass plays, or 3.7 percent). And Kenny Watson made three top 10s, tying for ninth among running backs in yards per attempt (4.6) and yards per attempt on grass (4.7) and placing seventh in “times stuffed per attempt” — that is, the percentage of times he was thrown for a loss. Watson was tackled behind the line on just 7.8 percent of his carries (nine of 116).

• • •

Two ex-Redskins also appeared on the lists. Stephen Davis tied for sixth in percentage of touchdowns inside the 3-yard line (66.7, four in six tries) and Daryl Gardener was ninth in “stuff yards” (25 yards in losses on 8.5 stuffs).

• • •

And did you know that former Redskin punter Matt Turk has a higher net average for his career than any other active player (37.5 yards, seven-tenths better than the Chargers’ Darren Bennett)?

• • •

On the subject of Davis, I came across the following nugget about him in the Charlotte Observer last week: “It’s not generally known that [Stephen], while starring on the athletic teams at Spartanburg [S.C.] High, used to whip up on Gaffney’s Tim Montgomery in high school sprints. Davis won the state 100-meter dash title three times, and his record of 10.4 seconds remains the S.C. state mark 12 years later.”

Montgomery, of course, is now the world record holder in the 100 meters at 9.78 seconds.

• • •

The Sunday Column gives “Seabiscuit” two hooves up.

• • •

A sportswriter I know is bothered by a quote in Laura Hillenbrand’s book (on which the movie is based). In one scene, Red Pollard, the legendary thoroughbred’s jockey, tells a journalist friend, “There’s more than one thing I can’t do. And there are a lot more things than that that you can’t do, or you wouldn’t be in the newspaper business.”

• • •

To which I reply: Hey, don’t forget, I can type, too.

• • •

Seabiscuit was a good horse, but he was no Khartoum.

Five points if you can tell me who Khartoum was. (Answer below.)

• • •

Speaking of films, Seabiscuit makes a brief — and little remembered — appearance in one of my all time favorite flicks, “Chinatown.” It’s in the scene where private detective Jake Gittes (played by Jack Nicholson) attends a public hearing on a proposed dam. As Gittes sits in the gallery, he reads a racing publication, and the headline on the front page says, “Seabiscuit Idol of Racing Fans.” A picture of the ‘Biscuit accompanies the story.

• • •

Screenwriter Robert Towne told the Los Angeles Times he wanted Seabiscuit to play a more prominent role in that movie, but “I could never get Roman [Polanski, the director] to understand the importance of it. [He would say,] ‘That’s folklore!’ And so he put in a shot of Seabiscuit in the paper.”

According to the Times, “Towne wanted Gittes to defend the horse during a heated exchange in a barbershop.” More from the screenwriter: “I wanted Jack’s character to be this little pimp of a sleazy private detective, but he had some innate appreciation of class, which was gonna get him in trouble eventually. I wanted it foreshadowed by his appreciation of Seabiscuit.”

• • •

Little-known fact: The Rams had a speedy receiver in the ‘50s, Bob Boyd, who was nicknamed “Seabiscuit.” Sometimes quarterback Norm Van Brocklin would simply stick his head in the huddle and say, “Seabiscuit to the post.” Everybody knew what the Dutchman meant: Boyd was going long.

• • •

Answer to trivia question: Khartoum was the horse whose head wound up in the movie producer’s bed in “The Godfather.” (Note: He never competed in the Santa Anita Handicap, though — or the Run for the Roses, for that matter. As the producer said in the film, “I’m not gonna race him. … I’m gonna put him out to stud.”

• • •

Can you believe it? Despite a 7-0 start for the Yankees, Mike Mussina still might not win 20 games this season — again. On the plus side, Moose is closing in on the all-time record for most victories by a pitcher who never had a 20-win season. (He has 11 this year and 193 overall.) The top 10 in this department (by my calculations):

1. Frank Tanana, 240 (1973-93) — Highest victory total was 19 for the Angels in ‘76.

2. Jerry Reuss, 220 (1969-90) — Won 18 with the Dodgers in ‘80 and ‘82 and again with the Pirates in ‘85.

3. Charlie Hough, 216 (1970-94) — Knuckled his way to 18 wins with Texas in ‘87 en route to a 216-216 career record.

4. Jack Quinn, 212 (1909-33) — Yeah, he recorded 26 victories in 1914 for Baltimore of the Federal League, but who’s counting?

5. Milt Pappas, 209 (1957-73) — The Man Who Was Traded for Frank Robinson topped out at 17 wins with the Cubs in ‘71 and ‘72.

6. Chuck Finley, 200 (1986-02) — Had back-to-back 18-victory seasons with the ‘90 and ‘91 Angels.

7. Larry French, 197 (1929-42) — A three-time 18-game winner with the Pirates (1932-33) and Cubs (‘36).

8 (tie). Mike Mussina, 193 (1991-present) — No one on the list has flirted more determinedly with 20 wins. Has won 19 twice (‘95 and ‘96, with the Orioles) and 18 thrice (‘92 and ‘99 with the O’s and ‘02 with the Yankees).

8 (tie). Curt Simmons, 193 (1947-67) — Best season was at age 35 (1964), when he put up 18 victories for the Series-winning Cardinals.

10. Tom Zachary, 186 (1918-36) — More famous for serving up Babe Ruth’s 60th homer in ‘27 than for winning 18 with the Senators in ‘21.

• • •

In Mussina’s defense, he has a much glossier won-lost record than any of the others: 193-108 at last glance, a .641 winning percentage. Pappas (.560), another former Oriole, is a distant second.

• • •

And finally, did you read about the former superintendent of the Metrodome admitting that in the late innings of close games, he used to manipulate the direction of the air conditioning to favor the Twins?

I guess we know, too, why the wind has always seemed to be at Randy Moss’ back.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide