- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 6, 2004

Give the Pistons credit. They held the Pacers to an average of 72.7 points in the Eastern Conference finals — without once going to the Four Corners.

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If I were the NBA, I would have made Detroit and Indiana shoot at peach baskets.

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I also would have had the announcers refer to Larry Brown’s team as the “Fort Wayne Zollner Pistons.”

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That wasn’t basketball they were playing out there, it was baseketball.

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Whoever thought we’d see the day when the NBA was being outscored by the Arena League?

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Just wondering: If Kobe and Co. break 100 at “The Palace” in the championship series — or even 90 — will the scoreboard explode?

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Actually, the bigger question for the Pistons and Lakers is, Can they produce more offense than last year’s WNBA Finals between the Detroit Shock and the Los Angeles Sparks? (The final score in the deciding game, I’ll just point out, was Shock 83, Sparks 78.)

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The Lakers are 1-to-5 to win the title and even money to go into a catatonic trance.

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Speaking of La-La Land, there was an incredible story out there last week. A man who spent 5 months in jail on murder charges was cleared after footage taken for the HBO show “Curb Your Enthusiasm” showed him at a Dodgers game on the Night in Question.

Or, as Johnnie Cochran would put it: If he’s in Section 23, you’ve gotta set him free.

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Part of me feels sorry for the guy, and the other part thinks: Hey, at least he didn’t have to watch the Pistons-Pacers series.

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Strange but true: The Wizards sent out a “postseason guide” to the local media. (Postseason? What postseason?) “But here’s the best part,” a source says. “You open to the first page, and not only is it upside down, it’s page 151. They put the covers on backwards. It’s so Wizards.”

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In honor of Julio Franco hitting a grand slam the other day at the age of 45 — and Randy Johnson pitching a perfect game a few weeks earlier at 40 — the Sunday Column proudly presents Six Other Baseball “Oldests”:

1. Oldest player to hit an inside-the-park home run: Honus Wagner, Pirates, 1916 (42 years, 4 months).

2. Oldest player to be voted Rookie of the Year: Sam Jethroe, Boston Braves, 1950 (32 years, 9 months).

3. Oldest player to belt 20 homers and swipe 20 bases in the same season: Paul O’Neill, Yankees, 2001 (38 years, 7 months).

4. Oldest player to capture a batting title: Ted Williams, Red Sox, 1958 (40 years, 1 month).

5. Oldest player to get a hit in the All-Star Game: Carlton Fisk, White Sox, 1991 (43 years, 7 months).

6. Oldest pitcher to win 20 games for the first time: Jamie Moyer, Mariners, 2001 (38 years, 10 months).

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Trivia question: Pud Galvin, the first big league hurler to rack up 300 victories, won No.300 on Oct.5, 1888, at Swanpdoodle Grounds. Where was Swanpdoodle Grounds? (Answer below.)

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Loyal reader Joe Gervasio e-mailed last week to correct a reference I made to the musical “Damn Yankees.” Joe Hardy did indeed lead the Washington Senators to the pennant, he says. (I had them “almost” winning the flag.) “It was the World Series that Hardy elected not to play in, as it would have involved making another contract for his soul with the devil.”

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One of the traditions at Fifth Third Field, home of the Toledo Mud Hens, is to designate one of the visiting players the “strikeout player of the game” — and to give out ice cream to fans whenever he whiffs. Well, the other night, that player was none other than Nomar Garciaparra, who was in town rehabbing with the Pawtucket Red Sox. Nomar endeared himself to the home crowd by fanning twice.

“That’s what I’m trying to do for the fans — make sure I take care of them,” he told the Boston Globe.

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The Mud Hens, you may recall, were Klinger’s favorite team on “M*A*S*H” (though, strangely, he never mentioned anything about the “strikeout player of the game”).

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Is it just me, or are the Gibbsskins closing in on the record for minicamps?

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Note that no Redskin has filed a protest with the players association — unlike the Giants, who went running to mama as soon as Tom Coughlin started cracking the whip. It’s all a matter of style. Coach Joe isn’t any less demanding than Coughlin, he just asks his players to “bust their buns” more nicely.

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News item: Packers release 2001 Heisman Trophy winner Eric Crouch.

Comment: I’ve got a hunch Crouch will be working for Bob Stoops before long.

(Not really. I just thought it would be funny to have the words hunch, crouch and stoops in the same sentence.)

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“There’s a chance he can play football in Canada,” Green Bay coach Mike Sherman said.

Why does that sound like Captain Binghamton threatening to send McHale’s crew to the Aleutians?

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He’s been dropped by “The NFL Today,” axed by “American Sportsman” … hope this doesn’t mean Deion Sanders is going to resume his rap career.

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As always, you have to admire the Neon One’s versatility. How many broadcasters have lost jobs in two different sports in the same year?

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Seems like just yesterday the Patriots’ Scott Pioli and the Jaguars’ Michael Huyghue were making a draft day trade (the Pats’ No.6 in 2001 for the Jags’ No.5 in 2002). Now Huyghue, who left the GM ranks to become an agent, will be representing Pioli’s first pick, University of Miami defensive tackle Vince Wilfork, in contract negotiations. Hopefully, Huyghue won’t hold it against the Patriots that they beat the Jaguars in the 1996 AFC Championship.

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I suppose I should say something about lacrosse, the Sport That’s Sweeping the Nation, so here goes:

“Something about lacrosse.”

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To borrow (and slightly amend) an old Mo Siegel line, I haven’t been to a lacrosse game since Pele retired.

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Which isn’t to say I’m lacrosse intolerant.

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Answer to trivia question: Swanpdoodle Grounds, site of Pud Galvin’s 300th victory, was in the District. It was where the Nationals played their home games.

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Last Sunday’s item on mooning episodes in sports brought this response from my friend Robert: “My senile memory thinks it recalls something in D.C. sports prior to your arrival. The old Washington Diplomats had an excellent scorer for a couple of years in the late ‘70s by the name of Paul Cannell, who I seem to remember got suspended for dropping his pants at the referee.”

Cannell certainly did — in a May13, 1978, game against the Tulsa Roughnecks at RFK Stadium. According to the Washington Star, “the hard-playing Briton was given a yellow card penalty by the official in the first half for taking down his pants, of all things, to protest a foul. One more yellow card, and Cannell will be forced to sit out a home game.” The Star’s story, you’ll be pleased to know, was written by one Dick Heller, now in the employ of The Washington Times.

Six weeks later, Sports Illustrated ran a picture of Cannell dropping trou, and only then did the North American Soccer League decide to suspend him for 10 days for conduct detrimental to the league. (Commissioner Phil Woosnam had previously viewed films of the game and determined no damage was done.)

“I was just trying to give the league a little exposure,” Cannell joked to the Star. “If I’m going to be suspended for this little fun, next time I’ll show off the whole lot. I might as well do it whole hog if this is the way it’s going to be.

“It is the most diabolical thing I’ve ever heard of. In a court of law you can’t be tried twice for the same offense. I was exonerated by the TV tape. When the [SI] article comes out two months later, I get suspended. I had no chance to speak to the league. It was like a kangaroo court.”

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Cannell never thought much of the officiating in the NASL. One day he was complaining about it to Bob Braine, the Memphis Rogues’ radio play-by-play man. “Bob,” he said, “you pay peanuts, you get monkeys.”

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While researching the previous item, I came across this amusing note in one of Mo Siegel’s (yes, him again) columns for the Star:

“In Madison Square Garden tomorrow evening, 44-year-old heavyweight Bobby Halpern, who spent the last 18 years in the slammer for kidnapping and armed robbery, headlines the fight card against 22-year-old Guy Casale. Casale’s manager is worried. ‘I don’t to like to fight fellas just out of jail. They’ve lived too clean,’” Nick Baffi complained.

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And finally, the IOC’s Kim Un-yong was sentenced to 2 years in prison last week for embezzling $3.3million from the World Taekwondo Federation. I, for one, am shocked. I mean, who knew the World Taekwondo Federation had $3.3million to embezzle?

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