- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 24, 2008

Desperate for somebody to share the blame with, Wayne Huizenga has sold half the Miami Dolphins to Stephen Ross, a New York builder. Huizenga, I’m told, is keeping the 1-7 half and giving his new partner the 0-8 half.

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Despite the Fins’ recent struggles, the value of the franchise has increased an estimated $804 million, from $138 million to $942 million, since Huizenga bought it from the heirs of club founder Joe Robbie 14 years ago.

No truth to the rumor, by the way, that the Robbie family has changed its name to the Robbed family.

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Connect the dots:

The Redskins say they’re looking for a “receiver with size” as Times colleague Ryan O’Halloran puts it.

Keyshawn Johnson says he might come out of retirement.

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Seriously, how many big receivers are out there, guys who could make an impact from Day 1? Granted, Keyshawn will be 36 at the start of next season — and granted, he’s the high-maintenance type — but in his last year with the Panthers in 2006 he caught 70 balls. In fact, in his nine full seasons in the NFL, he never caught less than 70 balls. For a short-term solution, the Redskins could do a lot worse.

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The subtitle of the previous item is: Putting a bee in Danny’s bonnet.

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Who knows what gave Johnson the itch again? Maybe the TV studio was too claustrophobic for him. Or maybe he saw Art Monk get elected to the Hall of Fame and said, “Hey, my numbers aren’t far from Art’s. If I have a couple more decent seasons, I might get elected to the Hall.”

For the record, Keyshawn trails Monk by 126 receptions, 2,150 yards and four touchdowns. (Career totals: 814/10,571/64.)

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What a zoo Indiana basketball has become. First Mike Davis got forced out — messily — in 2006. Then Kelvin Sampson replaced Davis and dialed M for murder (as they say around the NCAA enforcement division).

It’s almost enough to make you wish for the tranquility of the Bob Knight era.

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Go ahead and laugh. A decade from now, the only unpleasant memory Hoosier fans will have of Knight will be those checked sport coats he used to wear.

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Heck, Bob probably read about Sampson’s travails and said, “What’s a cell phone?”

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Turning to baseball, there’s a rumor buzzing around the Internet that the Royals want to switch leagues with the Brewers and move to the, uh, less challenging NL Central.

Let me guess: They’ve already been turned down by the Toledo Mud Hens of the International League.

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Five advantages to the Royals relocating to the National League:

1. More games in the Western Time Zone, fewer Kansas City box scores making the Eastern papers.

2. With the money the team saves on a designated hitter, it could buy an ethanol-powered team bus.

3. They’re the worst draw in the American League (based on total attendance, home and away). In the NL, they’d be the only second-worst draw (behind the Marlins).

4. You get tired of winning the All-Star Game every year.

5. There’s nothing KC fans appreciate more than a well executed double switch.

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News item: Man claims to have photo of Roger Clemens at Jose Canseco’s party, the one Rocket told Congressmen he didn’t attend.

Comment: If I’m Roger, I’m praying — praying — that the Patriots didn’t tape the bash.

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Number of the Week: $177,500. (How much Manny Ramirez has earned for each RBI since joining the Red Sox in 2001. The inimitable left fielder has driven in 800 runs and been paid $142 million.)

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Ichiro Suzuki on the Mariners’ acquisition of Erik Bedard (as quoted by the Seattle Times): “To gain power, sometimes you have to take a big risk. And I think the Mariners showed that by making that move.”

Translation: Boy, am I glad I don’t have to hit against that sucker anymore. He’s just murder on left-handed batters.

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The golf boom appears to be petering out. The New York Times, citing figures from the National Golf Foundation and the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association, reports that “the total number of people who play has declined or remained flat each year since 2000,” dropping from 30 million to 26 million. Worse, the number of 25-times-a-year players has decreased by a third, and the number of eight-times-a-year players by roughly half that.

The reason, surveys reveal, is “usually economic,” a spokesman for the NGF told the Times. “No time. Two jobs. Real wages not going up. Pensions going away. Corporate cutbacks in country club memberships — all that gloom and doom stuff.”

Yeah, maybe. But something tells me another factor in the decline, just as important as “real wages not going up,” is “handicap not going down.” It’s hard to get better at golf, frustratingly hard, when you only play a handful of times a year. A lot of folks, I suspect, jumped on the bandwagon in the ‘90s and then discovered, after years of thrashing about, that the sport wasn’t that much fun.

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The same thing happened to the tennis boom in the ‘70s. You couldn’t find an unoccupied court back then. Now the courts are being used for roller hockey.

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So I’m watching this ESPN commercial showing Pete Weber bowling with sunglasses and I’m thinking: What’s next, shirtless poker players?

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“Bowling With Sunglasses” — sounds like Michael Moore’s next documentary.

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And finally …

No bowler will ever be cooler than Pete’s legendary father, Dick. Consider: In 1964, Dick bowled a game on an airplane traveling from Dallas to New York. It was all part of a promotion by American Airlines to show how big its new cargo planes were.

AMF, the equipment manufacturer, set up the alley and pinsetting machine, and Dick proceeded to roll a 144 (three strikes, three spares) — all while zipping along at 25,000 feet.

During one particularly turbulent stretch, he went to the cockpit and said to the pilot, “Hey, captain, don’t you like me? Every time I throw the ball, it goes thataway.”

The captain laughed. “You mean I’m ruining your score? … I’ll try to get a smoother altitude.”

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