- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 29, 2004

News item: Ravens running back Jamal Lewis is indicted in drug trafficking sting.

Comment: I think I understand now why ESPN dropped “Playmakers.” It was too tame.

• • •

The Baseball That Doomed the Cubs may have been “executed,” but Steve Bartman is still at large.

• • •

Former big-league ump Al Clark has pleaded guilty to being involved in a baseball memorabilia scam. The Feds caught up with him, I’m told, after receiving a complaint that Clark was trying to peddle a ball that “was licked by Burleigh Grimes.”

• • •

This story about the sixth-grader who got suspended for bringing the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue to school — seems like there must more to it. You don’t suppose he submitted a book report on the thing, do you?

• • •

The Caps’ cashiering of Steve Konowalchuk, Jaromir Jagr, Peter Bondra and now Robert Lang reminds me of something Bill Veeck once told a St. Louis Browns player during a contract negotiation: “We finished in last place with ya, and we can finish in last place without ya.”

• • •

For Ted Leonsis, that’s the Lang and short of it.

• • •

When he isn’t busy coaching the minor league Richmond RiverDogs, Caps Hall of Famer Rod Langway puts in time at a metal products company owned by his wife’s family. “Even during the season, I try to get in two or three days a week if I can,” he told John Markon of the Richmond Times-Dispatch. “What I’ll do most days is coat things in black oxide. It’s a rust inhibitor.”

• • •

Too bad he didn’t have access to that stuff when he was playing. He might still be manning the blue line.

• • •

John Riggins had his formaldehyde. Why couldn’t Langway have had his black oxide?

• • •

If the Redskins are looking for a tight end in the draft, they might want to check out Virginia Tech’s Keith Willis, a 6-5, 261-pounder who can run. “He dropped quite a few balls,” my Hokies source says, “but the one thing I don’t question is his blocking. The guy just runs over people. Also, he was a big special teams player for us.” Willis caught a touchdown pass in the Gridiron Classic all-star game.

• • •

Of course, if the Champ Bailey deal goes through, the Redskins will be down to their skivvies, draft pick-wise. All they’ll have left is their first- and fifth-rounders.

• • •

The trade of Rasheed Wallace to the Pistons gives Detroit two All-Stars with the same last name — the other being Ben Wallace. Which got me wondering — exactly how common is this (when the players aren’t related, that is)? Answer: Not very. I did some quick scanning of all-time all-star rosters in the various sports and came up with the following lists:

ACTIVE/RECENT

• LF Chipper Jones and CF Andruw Jones, Braves, current.

• LB Ray Lewis and RB Jamal Lewis, Ravens, current.

• SS Alex Rodriguez and C Ivan Rodriguez, Rangers, ‘00s.

• QB Steve Young and DT Bryant Young, 49ers, ‘90s.

• F Karl Malone and G Jeff Malone, Jazz, ‘90s.

• DH Edgar Martinez and 1B Tino Martinez, Mariners, ‘90s.

• LF Rickey Henderson and CF Dave Henderson, A’s, ‘90s.

• SS Ozzie Smith and P Lee Smith, Cardinals, ‘90s.

FURTHER BACK

• OG Jerry Kramer and TE Ron Kramer, Packers, ‘60s.

• OT Bob Brown and RB Timmy Brown, Eagles, ‘60s.

• DE Ben Davidson and QB Cotton Davidson, Raiders, ‘60s.

• 3B Brooks Robinson and RF Frank Robinson, Orioles, ‘60s/‘70s.

• G Dennis Johnson and F John Johnson, SuperSonics, ‘70s.

• WR Sammy White and OG Ed White, Vikings, ‘70s.

• C Jim Otto and LB Gus Otto, Raiders, ‘70s.

• WR Gene Washington and RB Vic Washington, 49ers, ‘70s.

• WR Harold Jackson and CB Monte Jackson, Rams, ‘70s.

• C Moses Malone and G Jeff Malone, Bullets, ‘80s.

• SS Ozzie Smith and LF Lonnie Smith, Cardinals, ‘80s.

• DT Randy White and QB Danny White, Cowboys, ‘80s.

• • •

Anybody got any examples from hockey? (Sorry, I struck out there.)

• • •

Now you know why Jeff Malone is one of the more overlooked 17,000-point scorers in NBA history. A number of years, he wasn’t even the best Malone on his team.

• • •

The 49ers had three Pro Bowl players named Washington in the ‘70s — Gene, Vic and Dave, a linebacker. But they never had more than two of them at the same time.

• • •

Just to show you how ruthless I was in putting together these lists, Tommy Davis and Willie Davis were teammates on the Dodgers in the ‘60s and both played in the All-Star Game. But Willie didn’t do it until after Tommy was gone, so the Davises didn’t qualify. (Sorry, you’ve gotta be all-stars — or past all-stars — at the time you’re playing together.

• • •

A dynamic duo that nobody would think of: WR Rod Smith and ST (that’s special teamer) Detron Smith of the Broncos, who made the Pro Bowl in ‘99 (Detron) and ‘00 (Rod) while sharing the same locker room.

• • •

Did you see Mark Cuban, the Dallas Mavericks’ wacky owner, is giving away $1million of his own money on a reality series called “The Benefactor”? I guess all those fines he’s been forking over to David Stern were just the pilot episode.

• • •

Cuban’s show reminds me of a drama that ran on CBS in the ‘50s and ‘60s — “The Millionaire.” Each week, an eccentric billionaire, John Beresford Tipton, would make an anonymous gift of a million bucks to an unsuspecting person (the point being to see if it affected his or her life).

Maybe Cuban could call himself John Beresford Tipoff or something.

• • •

Interesting piece last week by Randy King of the Roanoke Times about a long-forgotten episode — George Gervin, then at Eastern Michigan, sucker-punching Jay Piccola of Roanoke College in the NCAA Division II semifinals in 1972. It’s the reason, believe it or not, the Iceman turned pro early (which was unusual back then). He got suspended by his coach, dropped out of school “and was playing minor league hoops in Pontiac, Mich., when [Virginia] Squires coach Johnny Kerr saw him score 50 points one night,” King writes. Gervin signed with Kerr and the ABA — and the rest is history.

In Terry Pluto’s ode to the ABA, “Loose Balls,” Kerr recalls: “I was watching some kind of all-star game in Michigan, and there was this skinny kid making all these shots. I asked who the kid was, and it turned out to be George Gervin. I felt as if I had just found out that Elvis Presley was alive.”

• • •

Things didn’t turn out too badly for Piccola, though, according to King. His Roanoke team went on to win the championship, and he’s now the president of Puma, the athletic gear company (after being drafted in the eighth round by the New Orleans Jazz in ‘74).

• • •

Yes, the Squires actually had Gervin and Julius Erving at the same time — the 1972-73 season, George’s first as a pro. The next year, however, Dr. J moved on to the Nets and Gervin became a Spur.

• • •

Neal from Gaithersburg e-mails: “If you want your daughter to grow up to be a college basketball player, give her a name that ends in ‘a.’ From the women’s college hoops roundup in Monday’s New York Times, here are some of the notable players: Shyra Ely, Shanna Zalman, Alana Beard, Delvona Oliver, Kalika France, Shereka Wright, Tanisha Wright, Kendra Wecker, Sandora Irvin, Carla Thomas, Natasha Brackett.”

• • •

Speaking of women’s college basketball, did you happen to notice who’s ranked 1-2 in Division III? Bowdoin (24-0) and Southern Maine (24-1)! Since when is Maine — Bowdoin is in Brunswick — the capital of women’s small college hoops?

• • •

And finally …

A brief excerpt from the just-published “Surviving Little League: For Players, Parents, and Coaches” by Les and Mike Edgerton (Taylor Trade Publishing, $14.95):

“If you find yourself at shortstop in the first game, check and see if your dad’s coaching the team. Chances are he is. If you find yourself batting cleanup, it’s almost certain he is. If you’re also pitching for a portion of the game, there’s no doubt.”

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