- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 1, 2004

Sorry, I would have been here sooner, but Allen Iverson, LeBron James and Amare Stoudemire locked me in the trunk and wouldn’t let me out.

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Nobody should be surprised that AI — along with the other two — missed a U.S. Olympic team meeting. After all, he said he was going to approach the Games just like the regular season.

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Beware of Falling Tysons.

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I’ve got just two words for Iron Mike, by the way: loan shark.

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In honor of Joe Gibbs’ return as Redskins coach, the Sunday Column proudly presents Cash Box’s Top 10 Singles for the week ending Aug.1, 1981:

1. “Elvira” by the Oak Ridge Boys.

2. “Theme From ‘Greatest American Hero’ (Believe It or Not)” by Joey Scarbury.

3. “Jessie’s Girl” by Rick Springfield.

4. “The One That You Love” by Air Supply.

5. “I Don’t Need You” by Kenny Rogers.

6. “Slow Hand” by the Pointer Sisters.

7. “Bette Davis Eyes” by Kim Carnes.

8. “You Make My Dreams” by Hall and Oates.

9. “Boy From New York City” by the Manhattan Transfer.

10. “Hearts” by Marty Balin.

(Note: “Endless Love” by Diana Ross and Lionel Richie just missed out at No11.

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My spies tell me LaVar Arrington, Laveranues Coles and Clinton Portis shot a commercial for a local car dealership recently at Gonzaga High School. The ad apparently involved lip-synching of the dealership’s jingle. Sounds like a Clio Award in the making.

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Quote of the Week: “This is hardly a perfect applicant to the University. … However, he is young, and his file reveals academic talent as well as the better-known athletic ability.

“Mr. Williams is also one of us — a son of Miami. We have a special obligation, relationship and commitment to the young people of our South Florida community. We want them to continue to think of us as a place of academic excellence and opportunity.”

(Letter from University of Miami president Donna Shalala to the school’s alumni regarding the admission of football recruit Willie Williams, who has been arrested 11 times.)

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The high school football season must be getting close. In Newport News, Va., last week, a brawl erupted during a two-hand-touch, 7-on-7 passing league game between players from Petersburg and Warwick.

“It was like a riot,” an observer told the Daily Press. “There had to be at least 60 people fighting.”

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Moses Malone once said he could win the NBA title with “four guys from Petersburg.” Now we know why.

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We may never see anybody hit .400 in the major leagues again, but give Ichiro Suzuki credit: He’s hit .400 in two different months this season: an even .400 in May and .429 (not counting last night’s game) in July.

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On the subject of .400 hitters, came across an interesting quote the other day while flipping through the pages of “Babe,” Robert Creamer’s wonderful biography of Babe Ruth. It was uttered by Red Sox manager Ed Barrow in 1919, when the Bambino broke the record for homers in a season for the first time (belting 29).

“After Babe has satisfied himself by hanging up a record for home runs that never will be touched, he will become a .400 hitter,” Barrow predicted. “He wants to establish a record of 30 or 35 home runs this year, and when he has done that he will start getting lots of base hits that will win us more games than his home runs. He will just meet the ball and hit it to left field as well as Ty Cobb. He will not be trying to knock the ball out of the lot after this season. He will be content with this record because it will be far and away out of the reach of any other player the game is likely to develop.”

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Boy, was Barrow wrong — in almost every way. Ruth did almost hit .400 one year, though, finishing at .393 in 1923 (while also “going yard” 41 times to lead the American League).

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Things I Didn’t Know, No. 1,398,645: In 1905, the annual Reach baseball guide — the Sporting News Guide of its time — didn’t list the number of complete games for pitchers, it listed the number of “times taken out” (according to Alan Schwarz, author of “The Numbers Game: Baseball’s Lifetime Fascination With Statistics”).

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Wish they kept stats like that nowadays. Starters might be more inclined to finish the darn game.

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Did you read about the guy who played an 18-hole, 1,234-mile round of golf across Mongolia, a trek that took nine months?

At one point, I understand, the Dalai Lama asked to play through.

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The guy reportedly lost 509 golf balls along the way. In other news, there was a run on scuba diving equipment in Ulan Bator.

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Quote of the Week (honorable mention): “If golf was as cool then as it is today, I may have never played baseball.”

— Mark McGwire to the Michigan media as he got ready to play in the Western Amateur

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News item: Augusta, Ga., pays Martha Burk $120,000 to settle a claim that the city improperly restricted a protest last year against Augusta National’s all-male membership.

Comment: That means Martha came away with more money from last year’s Masters than Tiger Woods ($93,000), Davis Love (ditto), Nick Price ($57,600), Sergio Garcia ($43,500) or Nick Faldo ($36,375).

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Better yet, she doesn’t have to share any of it with a caddy.

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Speaking of golf and money, am I the only one who finds it amusing that the Senior British Open paid its winner $295,212? That’s like marathons being 26 miles, 385 yards long.

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A while back, the LPGA changed its criteria to make it easier, supposedly, for players to get into the Hall of Fame. Under the new system, though, Meg Mallon is farther away than she would have been under the old system. Under the new system, she can qualify with one more major championship (worth two points) and four other victories (worth a point each). But under the old system, she would have been able to qualify with one more major (worth five points) and two other victories (worth a point each). This is progress?

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Anybody who wins 17 tournaments and four majors (two of them U.S. Opens), as Meg has, is a Hall of Famer in my book, regardless of how many “points” she has accumulated.

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With a strike/lockout looming, doesn’t it seem like the Caps are just assembling a Fantasy League team?

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Worth reading: The story by David Wharton in Friday’s Los Angeles Times on the latest athletic scandal — parents having their children repeat a grade in school to gain an advantage in sports. What started in Texas in the 1980s is spreading to other parts of the country, even the Washington area. One friend told me about “a senior at Seneca Valley High who didn’t play football as a freshman and was thinking about intentionally flunking a course his last semester.” Why? “So he could re-take the course in the fall and use his last year of football eligibility. He didn’t wind up doing it, but he was thinking about it.”

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It’s getting crazy out there, folks.

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Having kids repeat a grade for “maturity reasons” is becoming popular among local private schools. (I won’t mention any names.)

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Of course, by “maturity” they mean how many pounds the student-athlete can bench.

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And finally …

The success of “White Chicks,” I hear, has one Hollywood studio considering a movie in which Alonzo Mourning dresses up like Carmen Electra. Working title: “Mourning Becomes Electra.”

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