- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 14, 2004

News item: Mike Tyson booked on suspicion of damaging a car by jumping on the hood.

Comment: He was probably just shooting a scene from his upcoming film, “Boyz on the Hood.”

• • •

In other legal developments, the indictments from the Pacers-Pistons brawl were finally handed up. Not only were five Indiana players charged with assault and battery, but — I wonder about this one — ex-Pacer Chuck Person was called for palming … Ron Artest’s head.

• • •

Detroit Tigers outfielder Craig Monroe also got arrested — after trying to leave a department store with a $29.99 belt he hadn’t paid for, according to police.

Hey, come on, athletes don’t just have to feed their families (to quote from the Book of Latrell), they have to clothe them, too.

• • •

I don’t know if this means anything, but Monroe was thrown out stealing four times in seven attempts last season.

• • •

Seriously, why would a guy making $335,000 a year do something like that — I mean, unless he was trying to impress his date, Winona Ryder?

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Speaking of Mr. Sprewell, he was hit with a one-game suspension — a loss of $162,000 in salary — for shouting a vulgarity at a female heckler. Guess the Sprewells will be brown-bagging it for a while, huh?

• • •

Then there was Colorado Rockies pitcher Denny Neagle, whose contract was terminated by the club after he was cited for solicitation. Neagle’s career statistics have been updated to read: 1,415 strikeouts, 594 walks and one streetwalker.

• • •

Never one to miss an opportunity, David Elfin of The Washington Times has come out — just in time for the Stocking Stuffing Season — with “The Ultimate Washington Baseball Trivia Book” ($9.95, 21st Century Online Publishing). I’ve perused it thoroughly and — trust me, holiday shoppers — it definitely beats a lump of coal. Here are a half-dozen trivia questions to whet your appetite. (You can order the book at amazon.com or by calling 301/632-9661)

1. What National League Cy Young winner went just 19-22 for the Senators the previous two years?

2. Who was Washington’s only 20-game winner in the second half of the 20th century?

3. Name the Senators outfielders who were back to back Rookies of the Year in 1958 and 1959?

4. Which member of the infamous Black Sox of 1919 previously played first for Washington?

5. Who hit grand slams in successive innings against the Senators?

Bonus: President Harry Truman threw out the first ball on Opening Day 1950. What was unusual about it?

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Idle thought: Do you suppose any baseball fans have gone to the movie “Closer” expecting it to be about Mariano Rivera?

• • •

The only team that might be able to keep the Patriots from winning another Super Bowl is Notre Dame — if the Fighting Irish end up hiring Pats offensive coordinator Charlie Weis as their coach. If Weis leaves New England before the season is over, it’s anybody’s ballgame in the AFC.

• • •

Now why was it, exactly, that Cowboys running back Julius Jones lasted until the second round of the draft?

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Hated to see Raiders wideout Ronald Curry, the former North Carolina two-sporter, tear his Achilles’ last Sunday. Curry was turning into a pass-catching terror for Norv Turner’s team, with 19 receptions for 309 yards and four touchdowns in his last three games. (One of the scores came on a leaping, one-handed, almost impossible grab in the end zone — amid the snowflakes in Denver.)

Here’s hoping the kid comes all the way back, as he did from another torn Achilles’ earlier in his career. After spending two years making the transition from college quarterback to pro receiver, he was beginning to look like the next Marlin Briscoe.

• • •

The Indianapolis Colts have joined the 2000 Rams and the 1960 Chargers as the only teams in league history to score 40 or more points in four straight games. The Colts, as we all know, are quarterbacked by Peyton Manning, and the Rams were led by Kurt Warner, but can anyone name the Chargers’ QB?

Answer: None other than Jack Kemp, the future vice presidential nominee.

• • •

A moment of silence, please, for Gunder Haegg, who died recently in Malmo, Sweden, at 85. Who the heck is Gunder Haegg, you ask? He’s the runner who held the world record for the mile before Roger Bannister.

Haegg was much more than just the answer to a trivia question, though. He lowered the mile mark three times during the ‘40s and ‘50s and owned the record a total of 9 years, 8 months and 25 days, according to my calculations, the longest of anyone since 1913. Even Jim Ryun (8 years, 11 months) and Paavo Nurmi (8 years, 1 months, 12 days) didn’t hold the record that long. As for Bannister, his record lasted a mere 46 days.

But Sir Roger, breaker of the Four-Minute Barrier, is the miler everyone remembers. And yet Haegg’s 4:01.4 in August 1945 may have been a more impressive feat than Bannister’s 3:59.4 in May 1954. Why? Because his time stood longer than any mile record in the last 90-plus years — 8 years, 9 months and 19 days (about eight months longer the marks set by Nurmi in 1923 and Steve Cram in ‘85).

Seems like that should count for something. So I’ve decided to give Gunder a proper sendoff in the Sunday Column. One of my sources, “The World Sports Record Atlas” says he was disqualified for professionalism in 1945 (as if anyone would care now), but there’s no question he was one of our greatest milers.

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Haegg wasn’t bad at other distances, either. He held the 5,000-meter mark (13:58.2) for nearly 12 years from 1942 to ‘54 — the longest a record in that event has held up in the last century.

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Gunder also helped add the word “fartlek” to the runner’s lexicon (and for that alone deserves this eulogy). Fartlek — Swedish for “speed play” — is a kind of interval training “first used on the pine needle paths of Swedish forests by Gosta Holmer,” Haag’s coach, according to the Web site realrunner.com.

“During your run you could sprint 50m up hills, run hard over a 1000m repetition, stride down hills or do short sprints, all interspersed with steady running, jogging or even walking. Although the objective is to run fast when you feel like it, Fartlek is not an easy form of training. The intensity and effectiveness of the sessions [depends on] the athlete’s own strength of mind. To have the ability to work hard is key because in this unstructured environment, it is easier to miss a repetition or walk or jog.”

• • •

There was no particular point to that last item. I just wanted to sneak the word “fartlek” into the column.

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Interesting, isn’t it, how an athlete of Haegg’s ilk can slip through the cracks of history? He’s kind of the track and field version of Roger Connor (whose 138 career homers were the major league record until a fellow named George Herman Ruth came along).

• • •

Answers to Senators trivia questions:

1. Mike McCormick (who went 22-10 for the Giants in 1967 after being traded for OF Cap Peterson and P Bob Priddy).

2. Bob Porterfield (whose 22 victories led the American League in 1953).

3. Albie Pearson and Bob Allison.

4. Chick Gandil.

5. Baltimore Hall of Fame slugger Frank Robinson on June 30, 1971. (Robinson, of course, will manage the Washington Nationals in their maiden season.)

Bonus: Truman, who was ambidextrous, actually threw two pitches, one right-handed and another left-handed.

• • •

A 30-hour, 12-minute basketball game played at a Nebraska high school in August will be recorded in “Guinness World Records” as the world’s longest. Twenty-four people between the ages of 15 and 35 participated. The game was finally halted when a member of the Skins team died of exposure.

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Aw, come on, I was just kiddin’.

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Turning to the tube, John McEnroe’s misbegotten talk show on CNBC has been canceled. More than once, Johnny Mac registered a 0.0. in the Nielsen ratings — or as they say in tennis, the “double bagel.”

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Obviously, viewers found his conversation about as stimulating as chair umpires did.

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And finally …

Viewing reminder: Thursday at 6 p.m., ESPN2 will televise the NXL Paintball World Cup. There are three divisions, I understand — satin, semi-gloss and oil base.

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