- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 7, 2002

Sports Illustrated's Rick Reilly sure got a lot of publicity when he asked Sammy Sosa to take a steroids test, didn't he?

In his next column, Reilly is going to ask John Daly to take a sobriety test.

And the week after that, he's going to ask Tony Siragusa to take a pregnancy test.

Other possibilities for Rick:
Coercing Kenyon Martin into taking a Rorschach test.
Convincing a top college recruit to re-take the Scholastic Assessment Test.
(Assuming, that is, the kid took it the first time.)

I'm tellin' ya, Rick could turn this into a cottage industry. He could call it the Rick Reilly Challenge.

It just occurred to me. Now that Yao Ming and Wang Zhi Zhi are in the league, NBA coaches aren't going to be able to relax their players before a big game by telling them, "Remember, guys, a billion Chinese don't give a darn."

Heck, with Tony Parker holding down a job in San Antonio, coaches can't even say, "Sixty million French don't give a darn."

Count me among the millions of ballplayers who, in their youth, read Ted Williams' "The Science of Hitting."

Also count me among the millions of ballplayers who, despite adhering to the book's principles, never hit .406.

Except maybe in Wiffle ball one year.

When the wind blew out a lot.

This being the week of the so-called Midsummer Classic, the Sunday Column is proud to present the Five Best Players Who Never Got Picked for the All-Star Team:
(Note: A player must have played at least half his career after 1933, the year of the first game, to qualify.)
1. Hal Trosky, 1B, 1933-46 (Indians, White Sox) The only .300 lifetime hitter (minimum: 1,500 hits) who hasn't been an All-Star. He should have made it in 1936, when he had 42 home runs, 162 RBI and batted .343, but only one first baseman was selected to the American League team that season. (Lou Gehrig, who else?) In other years, poor Hal got overshadowed by Jimmie Foxx and Hank Greenberg. All told, he hit .330 or better in four seasons and was overlooked each time.
2. Freddie Fitzsimmons, P, 1925-43 (Giants, Dodgers) Posted a 217-146 record with a 3.51 ERA and 29 shutouts and never played in the All-Star Game. Most of Fitzsimmons' best years were pre-'33, but in 1940, pitching once a week because of his advanced age (39), he went 16-2 for second-place Brooklyn and deserved to represent the National League. Alas, he was passed over in favor of three pitchers who finished below .500 that season Carl Hubbell (11-12), Kirby Higby (14-19) and Hugh Mulcahy (13-22).
3. Garry Maddox, CF, 1972-86 (Giants, Phillies) About the only thing Maddox couldn't do was hit for power. But he did bat .285 for his career (with highs of .330 in '76 and .319 in '73), routinely stole 20-plus bases and won eight Gold Gloves. Among NL outfielders, only Willie Mays and Roberto Clemente have won more.
4. Eddie Yost, 3B, 1944-62 (Senators, Tigers, Angels) Yost's career on-base percentage was .394 almost as good as Joe DiMaggio's (.398). This is what happens when you draw 1,614 walks (ninth all-time). Eddie had more going for him than that, though. In 1959, the best of his 17 seasons, he hit .278 with 21 homers and 135 bases on balls and was beaten out for the AL team by Harmon Killebrew and Frank Malzone. It just wasn't to be for Yost.
5. Gene Garber, P, 1969-88 (Phillies, Braves, etc.) Garber had his ups and downs, as do most relievers, but he still won 96 games and saved 218. Not bad numbers for a non-All-Star.

I was amazed to discover, while researching this, how few good players slip through the All-Star cracks. Just about anybody with any ability gets to play in the game sooner or later. So let's not have any whining about who didn't make it this year. Their time will come if it hasn't already.

News item: A total of 62 home runs are hit in the major leagues Tuesday, a record for one day.
Comment: And to think, just 16 years ago, the Cardinals hit 58 homers in an entire season.

Of course, that was before the players started taking ginseng and all those other helpful "herbs."

You've gotta love the Expos trading for Bartolo Colon. He's going to look great in a Washington uniform someday.

After I ran that item on Famous Dudleys in Sports History a few weeks back, Furman Bisher of the Atlanta Journal and Constitution came up with another one for me: Dudley Branom. Branom played one year for the Philadelphia A's in 1927, batting .234 in 30 games. Unfortunately, he wasn't able to beat out Jimmy Dykes and a 19-year-old prodigy from Sudlersville, Md., Jimmie Foxx, for the first base job. The name on his birth certificate, by the way, was
Edgar Dudley Branom. He apparently considered Dudley the lesser of two evils.

Furman's a wonder, isn't he? Who else in sportswriting would remember a backup first baseman who played one season in the big leagues 75 years ago?

Speaking of Sudlersville, Md., the town has a statue of Foxx at the corner of Church and Main streets. (In case you're planning any field trips this summer.)

This week's trivia question: What do Steve Yzerman, Tom Barrasso, John MacLean and new Capitals coach Bruce Cassidy have in common? (Answer below.)

Maryland football opens against Notre Dame. Maryland basketball opens against Indiana. You might say the Terps are Seizing the Day.

Is there a more overexposed ex-athlete on the planet than John McEnroe? In recent months, he has hosted a TV show ("The Chair," which bombed), collaborated on his autobiography ("You Cannot Be Serious"), been all over NBC's tennis coverage and, just last week, popped up in Adam Sandler's new movie, "Mr. Deeds" (playing, naturally, himself).

I mean, what's next, John McEnroe emcees the Tonys?

Answer to trivia question: They were all taken in the first round of the '83 NHL draft. Yzerman went fourth to Detroit, Barrasso went fifth to Buffalo, MacLean went sixth to New Jersey and Cassidy went 17th to Chicago. Other notable players in that draft: Pat LaFontaine, Cam Neely, Sylvain Turgeon and, farther down, Dominik Hasek, Rick Tocchet and Kevin Stevens.

It was a pretty strong draft. Ten of the top 12 selections (one was a goalie) scored at least 100 NHL goals, eight scored at least 200 and five scored at least 300.

Who would have believed that Bobby Wadkins would turn out to be a better Senior Tour player than brother Lanny?

Can't have a Sunday Column without a Redskins note, so here it is:
The Florida Sports Hall of Fame closed its doors last Sunday after state funding dried up, and among the memorabilia now homeless are the first visor Steve Spurrier wore at Florida and the shoe he used to kick the winning field goal against Auburn in 1966.

It wouldn't surprise me if Dan Snyder tried to get Spurrier's stuff on loan so he could display it in the Hall of Fame store at FedEx Field this season.

A word to the wise, Dan: Don't tell Stephen Davis about it. He did, after all, go to Auburn.

Every time I see the words "Minnesota Vikings coach Mike Tice," it seems like a misprint.

I used to feel the same way about "Washington Wizards forward Etdrick Bohannon."

And finally, did you see that heavyweight "contender" Wladimir Klitschko wants to play Lennox Lewis in chess before their bout (as yet unscheduled) and has gotten his friend Garry Kasparov to agree to referee?
If I were Lewis, I'd bring along Deep Blue, that computer that beat Kasparov, as one of my cornermen.


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