- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 27, 2008

Did you hear Marion Jones is seeking a pardon from President Bush? For what? For managing only a bronze in the long jump at the 2000 Olympics - even though she was geeked up on steroids and should have Creamed the competition?

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Speaking of the Olympics, to save time in Beijing, baseball will use a tiebreaker. If there’s still no winner after 10 innings, each team will be allowed to begin the 11th from any point in the batting order - with runners on first and second.

Fine by me - as long as it doesn’t determine homefield advantage in the World Series.

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No joke: If I were U.S. manager Davey Johnson, I’d make room on my roster for the guy who just missed our Olympic team in the 100 meters. That’s who I’d want to put on second base in the 11th.

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Elsewhere in Olympicsland, NBC announced that the commentators for at least 10 sports will be working from the network’s headquarters in New York.

It’ll be easy to tell which broadcasters aren’t in China, by the way. They’ll be the ones who aren’t wheezing.

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Channel 4’s Lindsay Czarniak might have the best deal. She’ll be hosting the Games on the Oxygen network.

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Absentee sportscasting. I’m not sure I like the idea. Can you imagine Frank Gifford doing the Ice Bowl from a studio years ago rather than from the frigid Lambeau Field press box? For one thing, he never would have uttered the immortal words: “I think I’ll have another bite of my coffee.”

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It wouldn’t work for newspapers, either. I mean, picture Grantland Rice “covering” Notre Dame’s Four Horsemen off the office radio in 1924. Instead of “Outlined against a blue-gray October sky …,” his lead might have read, “Outlined against a dingy, off-white ceiling lit by dangling bulbs …”

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Sorry, but you really should be Physically Present at an event - unless you’re covering a lunar landing or something.

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If NBC is concerned about costs, well, it just had a $550,000 fine struck down by a federal appeals court - the penalty it was assessed by the FCC after Janet Jackson’s right breast was exposed during the Super Bowl XXXVIII halftime show. Maybe that money could be used for a few more air fares to Beijing.

If so, the affected employees should have luggage stickers made up that say, “Olympics or Bust.”

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Never been quite certain how the FCC came up with the $550,000 figure. Is that how much Janet’s plastic surgery cost?

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Three reasons why “Marshalls” is on the short list of possible names for the NBA’s Oklahoma City team (the erstwhile Seattle SuperSonics):

1. The L key got stuck when they were typing the word Marshals in the press release.

2. They’re going to sell their naming rights to a discount clothing chain.

3. They’ve already got one Marshall - Donyell - and they’re planning to sign more.

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Actually, there are five other names being considered - the Barons, Bison, Energy, Thunder and Wind. I’d definitely stay away from that last one. Too many opportunities for clever headlines such as: “Big Fourth Quarter by Bryant Breaks Wind,” or “Wind Blow 20-Point Lead in Loss to Blazers.”

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Besides, we’ve already got a Windy City.

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So I’m reading about Josh Childress leaving the Atlanta Hawks for a club in Greece, and I’m thinking: I hope the guy realizes Athens, Greece, is nothing like Athens, Georgia.

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Anybody wanna bet Josh will be playing for the Greek national team in the 2012 Olympics?

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What I love most about Rick Mahorn’s two-game suspension for his involvement in the brawl between the Detroit Shock and Los Angeles Sparks:

In all his years of nastiness in the NBA, Mahorn was suspended for just one game - in 1988, when his flagrant foul of Michael Jordan sparked a Bulls-Pistons free-for-all. Granted, Rick was fined plenty, but he has now had to sit out more games as an assistant coach in the WNBA than he did as the baddest of the Detroit Pistons’ Bad Boys. Amazing. (Not to mention hysterical.)

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After five of their players were hit with suspensions following the catfight, the Shock signed hoops Hall of Famer Nancy Lieberman to a seven-day contract. You might say Nancy, who turned 50 July 1, has got some years on her. In fact, she’s old enough to be Dikembe Mutombo’s older sister.

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Lieberman was 39 when she last set sneaker in the WNBA - which means she hasn’t played in the league since the last century.

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Fascinating article by Brad Lefton in the Seattle Times about the master craftsman in Japan who made Ichiro Suzuki’s baseball gloves for 14 years - until his retirement in February at 75. Ichiro is extremely particular about his gloves, it seems.

“I’m looking for that definitive feeling that comes from the proper overall balance of the glove,” he told Lefton through an interpreter. “It should feel like an extension of my body, not a piece of equipment on my body. I accept that most gloves can’t produce that right feeling.”

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News item: The NFL will crack down on players who flash hand signals of street gangs during games.

Comment: Boy, Bill Belichick must be bummed. He spent a lot of the offseason, I hear, breaking down the gang signals.

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The best NFL training camp name I’ve come across so far: BenJarvus Green-Ellis, a running back for the Patriots (currently on the physically unable to perform list).

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And finally …

You say Sastre is leading the Tour de France?

I’m not sure I’d be interested if Sartre was leading.