- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 9, 2006

AUGUSTA, Ga.

Did you hear Tom Lehman had his courtesy car shot at while driving to the Augusta airport Tuesday night? It’s believed to be the first time the Masters has had a shotgun start.

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The Sunday Column would like to retract its prediction that David Duval will contend in a major this year. Duval’s excruciating 84 in the first round at Augusta makes you wonder if he’ll ever play in this tournament again. (His five-year exemption for winning the 2001 British Open expired last week.)

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Barring a miraculous turnaround — and frankly, I don’t see it — about the only way David will make it on the grounds next year is if he’s wearing a Hootie Johnson mask.

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In fact, Duval’s chances of playing at Augusta National anytime soon are about on a par with Michelle Wie’s.

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Sad but true: It isn’t often these days that “Duval” and “par” appear in the same sentence.

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My favorite moment in Masters Week is when I walk in the door of my rental property and find out what Major Home Improvement the owner has made since the previous April — thanks to the ridiculous rent she charges The Washington Times. This year’s Major Home Improvement: A new back stoop (with matching tile adorning the foundation).

Last year’s MHI: New driveway and front walk.

Other MHIs: Replacement windows, remodeled hall bathroom, backyard canopy trellis.

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Still waiting for her to break down and buy a DVD player. (Fortunately, my laptop has that capability.)

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Then there’s her infernal cuckoo clock. I’ve had dreams of Dick Cheney coming down here and shooting it.

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And don’t get me started on the tabletop fountain in the front entryway. We’re talkin’ Chinese water torture, folks.

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Of course, one man’s Chinese water torture is another man’s white noise.

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Elsewhere in sports …

It’s getting bad for Duke lacrosse. Just the other day, the Blue Devils received a verbal commitment from Hannibal Lecter III.

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Or as his family calls him, Trey.

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Joe Gibbs on the Redskins’ 2006 schedule: “I’ve never seen a schedule I like.”

Sounds almost like a Reverse Will Rogers, doesn’t he?

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Will didn’t do a whole lot of sports humor, but he did come up with this classic: “When should a college athlete turn pro? Not until he has earned all he can … as an amateur.”

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Getting back to the Redskins’ schedule, that two-month stretch beginning in late October — at Indy, bye week, Dallas, at Philly, at Tampa Bay, Carolina, Atlanta, Philadelphia — is positively brutal. And it’s followed by consecutive road trips to New Orleans and St. Louis.

Lotsa luck, fellas.

• • •

On the Rams’ roster, in case you missed it, will be wanderin’ Gus Frerotte. The former Redskins quarterback recently signed with St. Louis, his seventh NFL team and fifth in the last six years (the Lions, Broncos, Bengals, Vikings and Dolphins were the others).

Though he turns 35 in July, Frerotte is coming off one of his best seasons. His 494 passing attempts and 18 touchdown throws for Miami were, believe it or not, the top totals of his 12-year career.

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Gus has bounced around so much he’s starting to look like Earl Morrall.

Maybe he should get a flattop.

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In fact, it’s possible Frerotte has played for as many teams as any quarterback in NFL history. I just did some quick checking and turned up only three other QBs who have worn seven different uniforms: Jeff Blake (Jets, Bengals, Saints, Ravens, Cardinals, Eagles, Bears), Steve Bono (Vikings, Steelers, 49ers, Chiefs, Packers, Cardinals, Panthers) and Chris Chandler (Colts, Bucs, Cardinals, Rams, Oilers, Falcons, Bears).

Quarterbacks who have played for six clubs: Morrall, ex-Maryland Terp Dick Shiner, Steve DeBerg, Dave Krieg and Rodney Peete.

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Yeah, the Orioles’ Daniel Cabrera walked six Red Sox in the first inning Friday night, but things can always be worse. On Aug. 28, 1909, the Washington Senators’ “Dolly” Gray walked a record eight White Sox in the second inning, seven of them in a row (another record).

BaseballLibrary.com’s summary of the debacle: “Leading off the second, [Chicago’s] Patsy Dougherty logs the only hit, and when he bats again later in the inning, manager Billy Sullivan suggests he go to the plate without a bat.”

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Gray, a 30-year-old rookie, pitched two more seasons for the Senators and finished with a 15-51 career record. His full name was William Denton Gray. Trivia question: What famous pitcher had Denton as his first name? (Answer below.)

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More minutiae: When Leo Durocher was a radio broadcaster, his home run call was “Goodbye Dolly Gray!”

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“Goodbye Dolly Gray” was the name of a popular Spanish-American War song. What Leo probably meant by the home run call was that the team at bat was mobilizing. Consider the second verse of the song:

Goodbye Dolly I must leave you, though it breaks my heart to go,

Something tells me I am needed at the front to fight the foe,

See — the soldier boys are marching and I can no longer stay,

Hark ? I hear the bugle calling, goodbye Dolly Gray.

• • •

I couldn’t remember which announcer said “Goodbye Dolly Gray!” — and my initial Googling yielded no clues. So I solicited the opinion of Furman Bisher, the columnist for the Atlanta Journal and Constitution, who has seen all and knows all. Furman wasn’t sure, but suggested it might have been Rosey Rosewell, the Pirates’ broadcaster in the ‘30s.

Nope. Rosey’s home run call, it turns out, was: “Open the window, Aunt Minnie, here it comes!” (Which is even better than “Goodbye Dolly Gray!”)

The Sporting News’ Dave Kindred finally dug up the answer for me at baseball-almanac.com (a terrific Web site, by the way).

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File that last item under: Things Sportswriters Do When There’s A Rain Delay At The Masters

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Cabrera wasn’t the only pitcher who struggled with his location Friday night. In the seventh inning in San Francisco, the Giants’ Tyler Walker, Jack Taschner and Jeremy Accardo issued six walks and plunked a batter against the Braves.

“Even Jeff Francoeur, who has just one hit in his first 21 at-bats [this] season, found a way to make a seventh-inning contribution,” MLB.com reported. “He was hit on the left leg by a Taschner pitch with the bases loaded.”

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Hey, at least Bobby Cox didn’t try to send Francoeur up there without a bat.

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In other baseball news, Dwight Gooden was sentenced to a year and a day in prison for violating his probation by using cocaine. It shouldn’t be that big an adjustment for Doc, though; after all, he spent part of his last major league season with the Devil Rays.

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Answer to trivia question: Denton True “Cy” Young.

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And finally …

Barilla, the Italian pasta maker, isn’t renewing its sponsorship deal with party boy Bode Miller. The company apparently decided it didn’t want to be associated with an athlete who doesn’t use his noodle.

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