- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 26, 2009

The Redskins handed in the 13th pick so quickly, it was almost the 12th pick. (Which would have made it the first time in draft history a team had unilaterally moved up.)

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Can’t say I blame them. When the top-rated player on the board - Texas pass rusher Brian Orakpo - also happens to fit your needs perfectly, how much deliberation is required?

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Ovechkin, Orakpo. This town ain’t big enough for more than one Big O.

Maybe Orakpo can be Double O.

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Fearless prediction: Dan Snyder will think long and hard before he ever trades a second-round choice again. The lack of one likely kept him from getting Jay Cutler or Mark Sanchez.

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You have to like the symmetry of the Bucs trading up to draft Josh Freeman at 17 - 31 years after they drafted Doug Williams at 17.

And Doug, let’s not forget, proceeded to wear No. 17 in Washington. (He was No. 12 with Tampa.)

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There oughta be a law: If the NFL lengthens its season by two games, then it has to shorten the first round of the draft by two hours, just to even things out.

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“Never play cards with a man called Doc,” a wise man once said. To which I might add: And never draft a defensive tackle nicknamed Ziggy (Hood, the 295-pound bruiser from Missouri). It just doesn’t fit the position; it’s too light, too breezy. It’s like nicknaming a middle linebacker Cuddles.

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Number of the Week: 22. (Previous lowest spot in the first round for the Cardinals, who drafted 31st Saturday after winning the NFC title. The Cards have picked in the top 10 23 times since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger.)

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The Rangers sure missed Sean Avery on Friday night. If ever there were a time for gratuitous violence - a stick to the thorax, a run at the goaltender - it was in the New Yorkers’ 4-0 loss, their second such skunking in five days.

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I was disappointed, by the way, that Avery was listed as a “healthy scratch” instead of as “forcibly restrained.”

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A reader from Raleigh, N.C., writes: “I don’t think you had to go as far back as [Ken Dryden in 1971] for a goaltender who won the Stanley Cup and the Conn Smythe Trophy as a rookie. Cam Ward did it with the Hurricanes in 2006.”

He did, indeed - though I referenced Dryden because he, like the Caps’ Simeon Varlamov, had played in only a handful of regular-season games before being thrown into the fire. Ward, on the other hand, was the netminder of record in 24 games for Carolina that season, going 14-8-2.

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Potentially interesting parallel between Ward and Varlamov: The ‘Canes won it all in ‘06 despite dropping two at home to the Canadiens to begin the playoffs. That’s exactly what the Capitals did, of course, in this first-round series against the Rangers.

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Varlamov, incidentally, already has as many shutouts (2) as Ward did in Carolina’s entire run to the Cup.

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John Keating of Fox Sports Detroit on the difference between the regular season and the postseason in the NHL: “Playoff hockey is not exactly hockey. It’s hockey’s older, snarling brother who just got out of prison.”

Something for Ted Leonsis’ team to think about as it gears up for Game 6 at Madison Square Garden.

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Did you hear Celine Dion might try to buy the Montreal Canadiens? What’s next, Susan Boyle attempting a hostile takeover of Manchester United?

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No, wait, I’ve got it: Jessica Simpson will make Jerry Jones an offer he can’t refuse for the Cowboys.

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Was there ever any doubt that if ABC brought back “The Superstars” - for its third go-round, for those keeping count - Terrell Owens would be one of the names on the marquee? Any day now, I expect T.O. to declare himself the “greatest athlete in the universe” - and to back up his claim by inviting all the previous “Superstars” winners to take part in the competition… especially currently indisposed O.J. Simpson and 62-year-old Bob Seagren.

Seems like just yesterday Owens was saying he could beat Usain Bolt in the 100 meters if he had a 20-yard head start. Well, now we’ll get the next-best thing: T.O. and his celebrity partner, model Joanna Krupa, kayaking against Brandi Chastain and Julio Iglesias Jr.

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You know it’s a big-time production when they have to explain to you who some of the celebrities are.

In fact, see if you can match the contestants with (one of) their claims to fame:

1. Ali Landry

2. Estella Warren

3. Paige Hemmis

4. David Charvet

5. Dan Cortese

a. Carpentry skills come in handy on “Extreme Makeover: Home Editon.”

b. Had part in “National Lampoon’s Pucked,” a movie about an all-woman hockey team.

c. Was branded a “mimbo” - a male bimbo - in an episode of “Seinfeld.”

d. Starred in popular Doritos commercial during Super Bowl XXXII.

e. Spent three seasons on “Baywatch” and two on “Melrose Place.”

(Answers below.)

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Heaven help Owens’ teammate if she doesn’t pass him the baton.

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Loved those “Natinals” jerseys worn by Adam Dunn and Ryan Zimmerman recently during a game. Funny, isn’t it, that the Nats would run out of O’s? I mean, they always seem to have plenty of them for the scoreboard.

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I don’t know about you, but I’m really looking forward to next month’s Natinal Spelling Bee.

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My 18-year-old, coming up for air between midterms at Northwestern, passed along the following observation: “Chien-Ming Wang has given up 23 earned runs in his first six innings this season. In 2000, Pedro Martinez didn’t give up his 23rd earned run until Aug. 2, his 19th start.”

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So I’m reading about the Atlanta Hawks’ mascot getting loose before at the start of a playoff game and I’m thinking: Remember when they used to call basketball players cagers?

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For the uninitiated, the term derives from the days when a wire mesh barrier surrounded the court and separated the players from the fans. (Kind of like the screen that protected the Blues Brothers from the bottle-throwing rowdies at Bob’s Country Bunker.)

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FYI: The most famous cager of all time was probably Willie Cager, who helped Texas Western, with its all-black starting lineup, win the 1966 NCAA tournament.

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Answers to “Superstars” quiz: 1-d, 2-b, 3-a, 4-e, 5-c.

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And finally…

It’s been a rough few weeks for Louisville coach Rick Pitino. First his club was upset in the Elite Eight, then the whole Extortion Thing exploded and now 6-foot-11 phenom Jeremy Tyler, who had already committed to the Cardinals, announced his intention to skip college - not to mention his final high school season - and play the next two years in Europe.

If Rick enters another horse in the Kentucky Derby this year… well, let’s just say I won’t be putting any money down on it.

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