- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 5, 2007

Here’s my dream scenario: The Countdown to 756 drags on into September … and Ted Koppel comes out of retirement to launch a new program: “The Bonds Crisis — Bud Selig Held Hostage.”

If Selig, the erstwhile Ford dealer, had any sense of humor, he’d meet Barry at the plate after his record-breaking homer and present him with the keys to a car — a ‘77 Pinto.

Speaking of My Favorite Left Fielder, the folks at motheringhut.com are selling a T-shirt to commemorate his impending “accomplishment.” Listed on the shirt, in oversize numerals, is “756” — along with some other notorious numbers in sports history. Such as:

9.83 (Ben Johnson’s 100-meter time in the ‘88 Olympics).

14 (Danny Almonte’s age during the 2001 Little League World Series).

10,000 (Wilt Chamberlains’ alleged sexual conquests).

2:31:56 (Rosie Ruiz’s clocking in the ‘80 Boston Marathon).

Get ‘em while they’re hot. Only $14 plus tax (with the $5 summer discount).

Three thoughts about the late great Bill Walsh:

1. Let’s not forget the role luck plays in the making of legends. According to former 49ers personnel guy Tony Razzano, when the third round of the 1979 draft started, “I found out Bill wanted Steve Dils, his quarterback from Stanford. Bill was not sold that Joe Montana was his man.” Walsh was pressured by others to take Montana and, well, you know the rest. Dils collected dust on the bench for most of his career, while Joe Cool collected Lombardi Trophies.

2. Though the Niners had a reputation for being a finesse team in that era, Walsh himself was no softie. When he was “in the army, stationed at Fort Ord [in California],” Lowell Cohn writes in “Rough Magic,” “he boxed as an amateur and would spar with professionals like Bobo Olson who sometimes came down there. … When Gerry Cooney was near the top for a brief time, Walsh saw himself in Cooney — they were both left-handed Irishmen who had been turned around to fight right-handed in the ring. Walsh would get Cooney on the phone and discuss strategy with him and tell him he admired his big left hook.”

3. Walsh’s celebrated West Coast offense wasn’t entirely his own creation. He was greatly influenced — and has admitted as much — by the short-passing game Bud Grant’s Vikings used in the early ‘70s. (The Vikes’ Fran Tarkenton and Chuck Foreman operated much like Montana and Roger Craig.) What Walsh did was take that idea in new and more exciting directions, helped by Jerry Rice and tight ends such as Russ Francis and Brent Jones.

Remember that episode a few months back in Vegas when the Dolphins’ Joey Porter punched the Bengals’ Levi Jones? I finally found out what caused it. Seems they were having a huge argument about who was more “Now.”

Colleague Dave Elfin notes that Redskins hopeful Taylor Whitley is the grandson of Dick Todd, who coached the team briefly in the ‘50s and played halfback for it before that. Actually, Todd might have been best known for being Sammy Baugh’s closest friend. The two Texans were so tight that whenever the PR department booked Sammy for a personal appearance, it would issue the following guarantee: “Baugh will be there — Todd willing.”

The recent robberies of NBAers Eddy Curry and Antoine Walker bring to mind a similar incident years ago involving then-Saints coach Jim Mora. Mora, who had just gotten the New Orleans job, was returning from a night out with his wife when he caught an intruder walking off with his TV. In the wrestling match that ensued, the guy pulled a gun.

“Don’t you know who I am?” Mora said. “I’m the head coach of the Saints.”

The robber studied his face for a moment and replied, “I thought you looked familiar. Hey, Coach, I’m really sorry this had to happen, but you’ve got to do something about the Saints. They’re terrible.” He then proceeded to steal everything of value in the house.

Jets coach Eric Mangini occasionally plays classical music over the sideline speakers during training camp — to stimulate learning, he explains — but I’m not sure it’s such a wise move. I mean, given all the run-ins NFL players have had with the law lately, the league shouldn’t be doing anything that reminds people of a scene from “The Shawshank Redemption.”

Can you believe these stories about astronauts and alcohol? Then again, it probably explains why Alan Shepard was hitting golf balls on the moon when he should have been collecting rock samples.

What’s next, finding out that Shepard ran up a huge bar tab at the 19th Crater — and billed it to NASA?

I must not have gotten that memo — the one about the space program switching from Tang to Tangueray.

On the plus side, at least we know now why they call him “Buzz” Aldrin.

Professional Wrestling Name of the Week: The Man Formerly Known As Doink the Clown.

News item: An Italian golfer, Alessandro Pissilli, tests positive for a diuretic often used to mask steroid use.

Comment: A man will do desperate things to escape the giant shadow cast by, uh, Costantino Rocca.

On the other hand, it is kinda funny that a fellow named Pissilli would get suspended for using a diuretic.

Tiger Woods and Rory Sabbatini, together again, in the final round at Firestone today. They should put it on pay-per-view.

And finally …

Rory, I hear, is going back and forth. He can’t decide whether his bag should be carried by a caddy or a cut man.



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