- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 29, 2005

Talk about a strange coincidence. On the same day Bill Romanowski settled a suit with a former Raiders teammate he punched in the face, “The Longest Yard” opened nationwide — and featured a scene in which Romo punched Adam Sandler in the face.

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I would have called it “art imitating life,” but then I remembered I was talking about an Adam Sandler movie.

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Speaking of “The Longest Yard,” I thought I’d seen everything on the Big Screen until I saw Dan Patrick — in a moustache — playing a highway patrolman.

Who’s he going to portray in his next role, Danica Patrick?

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Another football film, I hear, is also in development — about the running back who got caught at the airport with the fake penis and vials of dried urine. Working title: “The Life Aquatic With Onterrio Smith.”

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A flick about Kellen Winslow Jr.’s motorcycle crash, the one that threw him 16 feet over the handlebars, also would be a natural. You could call it “The Longest 51/3 Yards.”

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Sounds, by the way, like Winslow has learned his lesson. “In hindsight,” he said in his apology to Browns fans, “it was unwise to attempt to learn to ride a motorcycle without a professional instructor in a controlled environment.”

Yup, it would have been much wiser to wait until after July15, when the club was scheduled to pay him $2million of his signing bonus.

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Former NFL quarterback Todd Marinovich, arrested in possession of apparent drug paraphernalia, listed his occupation on the police report as “unemployed artist.”

So that’s what he was doing with the clipboard he was always holding on the sideline.

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Given the obsession with cross-promotion these days, I’m amazed George Lucas hasn’t struck a deal with Major League Baseball. Think about it, folks. Before the Seventh Inning Stretch this summer, we could have the Bottom of the Sith.

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Sad, isn’t it, that Rickey Henderson is still trying to make it back to the big leagues at 46? Heck, even Garth Brooks probably will hang up his cleats before that.

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In one game, Rickey went 2-for-3 with two walks. At least, I think it was two walks. Maybe it was two walkers.

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The same night, according to the box score, he had three putouts and one assisted-living facility.

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What’s really beginning to bug people, apparently, is that he keeps leaving his turn signal on when he’s running the bases.

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Did you read that Cubs pitcher Carlos Zambrano might have caused himself elbow problems by e-mailing his brother four hours a day?

If he ever winds up on the DL, the “L” will stand for Leonsis.

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Four hours a day e-mailing. And we wonder why these guys can’t play a game in under three.

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The Sunday Column bids a fond farewell to Chico Carrasquel, one of the more melodic names in baseball history — and a pretty fair shortstop in the ‘50s. Carrasquel, who died last week at 77, wound up his career with the Orioles in ‘59 and had an uncle, Alex, who pitched for the Senators from ‘39 to ‘45 (compiling an admirable 50-39 record).

Chico, a Venezuelan, spoke no English when the Dodgers signed him in ‘49, which may be why they traded him to the White Sox. According to BaseballLibrary.com, Sox general manager Frank Lane “solved the communication problem” by swapping Alex Carrasquel (then a used-up 37) for reliever Luis Aloma, “who served as the interpreter between Chico and manager Paul Richards.”

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One of the most entertaining sports books ever, “The Great American Baseball Card Flipping, Trading, and Bubble Gum Book” by Brendan C. Boyd and Fred C. Harris, displays one of Chico’s cards — along with Nellie Fox’s — on page 136. The entry reads:

“Here they are, folks, everybody’s favorite double-play combination of the fifties — Chico and Nellie. Chico with his quick glove and his timely base hits, Nellie with his big wad of chewing tobacco and his milk-bottle-handle bat. I used to love to see these two play. They looked so much like kids themselves that they always made me feel like I could step right out of the third row of the bleachers and into the starting lineup.”

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Helling impaled by bat in Triple-A game (ESPN.com)

Aw, come on, you guys can come up with a better headline than that. How about:

Not-so-splendid splinter

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News item: NFL bans horse-collar tackles.

Comment: Good thing they didn’t have that rule in the ‘50s. I mean, how were opposing teams supposed to get Alan “the Horse” Ameche on the ground?

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Stumbled across a funny story while surfing the Net the other day. Blair Buswell, a sculptor who has done more than 50 busts for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, says he was excited about doing Larry Csonka’s years ago because of the ramrodding fullback’s famous broken nose. But guess what? “Csonka went and had plastic surgery and wouldn’t pose for me until after he had that nose job.”

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In college football, members of the American Football Coaches Association announced they’ll make their votes in the final coaches’ poll public this season. Just wondering: Have the sports information directors who fill out most of these ballots been told about this?

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If there’s anything sillier than a sportswriter voting in a college football poll — as I did, once upon a time — it’s a coach (or SID) doing so. I remember one year when Barry Switzer, in an attempt to improve Oklahoma’s standing, ranked Fresno State No.1 at the end of the regular season instead of Penn State, the only other unbeaten major college team. After the Sooners whipped the Nittany Lions in the Orange Bowl to win the national championship, I asked Barry, “You still gonna vote Fresno State No.1?”

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My column last week on the Sing Sing prison football team in the ‘30s elicited this response from reader Jay Spiegel:

“Your column brought back memories of my days as a field goal kicker for the D.C. Bears, a prominent semipro team that existed in the 1960s and ‘70s. In 1976 or 1977, we played a game against the Lorton Prison team. Similar to your report, the Lorton prisoners (who played no away games) were among the cleanest football players we faced. I gather that fear of solitary confinement was one reason for their clean play.

“My first recollection of that day was arriving at the prison and having my hand stamped by one of the guards. When I looked at my hand, there was no visible mark from the stamping. When I made inquiry, the guard placed my hand under an ultraviolet lamp and the mark became clearly visible. He then admonished me to make sure not to wash off the stamp ‘otherwise you’ll do 20 years.’ I recall making sure to wait to shower until I arrived at my home.”

The game, Spiegel says, was scoreless when he went out to try a 37-yard field goal in the closing seconds. “As I was lining up the kick, I looked up and noticed the guards in the guard towers showing me their rifles in an act of intimidation. I dare say no NFL kicker has ever been called upon to kick a field goal under such circumstances. The snap and hold were good, and I kicked the ball through the uprights for the winning points.”

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Should the Wizards lose Juan Dixon, they might want to consider another Maryland grad with instant-offense ability, Sarunas Jasikevicius. The latter, who torched the U.S. for 28 points in the Olympics, was just named MVP of the European tournament … and is a free agent.

“I think he’s going to try the NBA,” Celtics GM Chris Wallace told the Boston Globe. “The guy is a great shooter and a great, great big-game player.”

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And finally …

ESPN won’t pick up a $60million option to carry NHL games next season, the Los Angeles Times reports. The network might try to retain the rights for less money, though, the paper says — after putting on, I suspect, its best poker face.

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