- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 26, 2002

I don't know about you, but I knew Tiger Woods wasn't coming to the Kemper as soon as I saw that 74 go up on the board Thursday afternoon.

Tiger's indecision undoubtedly sold a few tickets, though an old marketing ploy.

Neil from Gaithersburg writes: "As you know, there's quite a disparity among the communities and schools in Montgomery County in terms of wealth, prestige and education. For example, Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School got National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice to give its commencement address. Gaithersburg High, on the other hand, landed Philadelphia Eagles center [and G-burg grad] Hank Fraley.
"That said, it should be interesting to compare their speeches. For instance:
"Rice can talk about huddling with former Secretary of State Zbigniew Brzezinski.
"Fraley can talk about being in the huddle with guard Doug Brzezinski.
"Rice can talk about America's foreign policy.
"Fraley can talk about the NFL's steroid policy.
"Rice can talk about 'hot spots' in various parts of the world.
"Fraley can talk about 'hot spots' in various cities.
"Rice can describe President Bush's leadership style.
"Fraley can describe what Eagles coach Andy Reid looks like naked."

To which I might add:
Rice can talk about scrambling our fighter planes.
Fraley can talk about scrambling quarterbacks.
Rice can talk about covert operations.
Fraley can talk about knee operations.
Rice can talk about the country's long-range nuclear capability.
Fraley can talk about his long-snapping ability.
Rice can talk about bilateral relations.
Fraley can talk about bye weeks and hook-and-lateral plays.
Rice can talk about carrying the weight of the free world on her shoulders.
Fraley can talk about carrying the weight of "Big Daddy" Wilkinson on his shoulders.
Rice can talk about the dangers of the Middle East bloc.
Fraley can talk about the dangers of the chop block.

In an interview with the Miami Herald's Dan LeBatard earlier this month, Steve Spurrier said, "[The] only times I've been sort of angry [at the print media] are when someone writes a lie, an outright lie. I realize, though, I can't control what others write. If their opinion is I'm a lousy coach, arrogant or cocky or a crybaby, that doesn't bother me. That's an opinion. But don't lie."
Later in the interview, however, Spurrier said: "I knew [I would be criticized for bringing too many former Florida players to Washington]. The criticism will stop when I release one or two. Marty Schottenheimer had more Kansas City guys here than I had Gators, but that was OK and this isn't?"
Not to sound accusatory or anything, Steve, but that's an outright lie. Schottenheimer brought in four ex-Chiefs: guard Dave Szott, fullback Donnell Bennett, wide receiver Kevin Lockett and punter Bryan Barker. Spurrier currently has seven ex-Gators on the roster: quarterbacks Shane Matthews and Danny Wuerffel, receivers Jacquez Green, Reidel Anthony and Chris Doering, offensive lineman Leon Hires and running back Robert Gillespie.

Of course, Spurrier would probably say he "misspoke" and perhaps he did. Perhaps he just had bad information which is a lot different from an "outright lie." But he's not going to last very long in this town unless he can distinguish between the two.

Quote of the week comes from our good friend Dan Snyder, who during a "lighthearted" session with Associated Press writers and editors last week, said, "You all have been laughing; I've been joking around. And that's never in the media, because that's not fun that Dan Snyder's actually a lot of fun to be with. That's not as fun as saying: `Jeez, look what happened with this decision.'"

Oh yeah, Dan's a regular laugh riot. He should have his own TV show. They could call it "The Dan Show."

As a colleague remarked, "I'd like to ask the 100 or so [Redskins] employees he fired about what a fun guy he is."

Cardinals free safety Pat Tillman's decision to join the military is reminiscent of Davey O'Brien's decision to leave his job as the Eagles' quarterback in 1940 and become an FBI agent. O'Brien, the 1938 Heisman Trophy winner, led the NFL in passing in '39 and was one of the highest-paid players in the league despite being one of the smallest in the league (5-7, 150 pounds). Alas, a higher duty called.
His last game, against the Redskins at Griffith Stadium, was something to see. He completed 33 of 60 passes (both records at the time) for 316 yards, but Philly lost anyway 13-7. The following Sunday, the Redskins still wobbly-legged, no doubt were demolished by the Bears in the title game 73-to-zip.

Nothing like a case of food poisoning to spice up, so to speak, the NBA playoffs. You'll note the Lakers have dropped two straight to the Kings since Kobe Bryant ate that fateful burger in Sacramento and are in danger of being knocked off their throne. Three other recent cases of a player being struck by food poisoning during the postseason:
Dirk Nowitzki, 2001 Nowitzki found himself kneeling before the Porcelain God before Game 3 of the Dallas-San Antonio series. But that didn't stop him from taking the floor against the Spurs. "He's a very gutsy guy who wanted to play in this game in the worst way," said coach Don Nelson. That's exactly how Dirk played, too in the worst way. He scored just 15 points on 5-for-15 shooting and logged only 29 minutes in a 104-90 defeat that left the Mavericks one loss from elimination.
Grant Hill, 1997 Hill was on a steady diet of I.V. bags in the days leading up to the Detroit-Charlotte series. "He probably got sick eating that week-old food in his refrigerator," teammate Joe Dumars said. "Not being married means he has to cook for himself, and that alone can create problems." Grant performed admirably in the opener, leading the Pistons with 20 points, 14 rebounds and seven assists but ran out of gas in the fourth quarter and failed to score. The Hornets took the game (89-75) and the series (3-2).
Michael Jordan, 1997 A few weeks after Hill's tummy ache, some pizza got the better of Jordan before Game 5 of the NBA Finals against Utah. "I've never seen Michael as sick as he was," Scottie Pippen said, "to the point where I didn't think he was going to be able to put on his uniform." Jordan not only suited up, he scored 38 points and hit the game-winning 3-pointer. Two nights later, the Bulls were champs again.

Significant figures:
1.04billion Number of yen Mariners closer Kazuhiro Sasaski will make next year, based on 130 yen to the U.S. dollar. (His contract extension is worth $8million a year.) The Seattle Times says it's "thought to be the first 10-figure contract ever given an athlete in the denomination of his own country."
$10,200 Anticipated monthly food expenses for the 3-year-old daughter of former tennis player Lisa Bonder, who is suing billionaire ex-husband Kirk Kerkorian for additional child support. (For those of you scoring at home, that's $4,300 for eating in and $5,900 for eating out.) Bonder is also asking $144,000 a month for her child's travel on private jets, $14,000 for parties and play dates and $436 for the care of a bunny rabbit and other pets.

The planets must have been in some strange alignment Thursday. Not only did the Dodgers' Shawn Green hit four homers in a game, Marlins switch-hitter Luis Castillo belted his first dinger from the left side in 1,772 at-bats.

FYI: The player who batted the most times in the bigs without a home run is none other than William Holbert who was born in Baltimore and died in Laurel. Holbert, a catcher in the dead ball era, made 2,335 trips to the plate without knocking one out of the park. Of his 486 career hits, 438 were singles.

Of course, that was in the days before weight training.

Not to mention creatine.

If Holbert played now, he'd probably be Mike Piazza.

Then there's Eddie Foster, the erstwhile Washington Senator, who didn't homer in his last 3,278 major league at-bats (1916-23). Foster's drought is the second longest in history behind Tommy Thevenow's 3,347.
Footnote: Eddie is the guy who drew a leadoff walk in Ernie Shore's imperfect perfect game in 1917. Babe Ruth started on the mound for Boston, but got upset with the plate umpire's calls, punched him and was ejected. Walsh came on and retired the next 26 batters. (Foster was caught stealing on a pickoff.)

Another Nat who was a gnat in the power department was George McBride, who swatted a mere seven round-trippers in 5,526 at bats (1901-20). But McBride was a terrific glove man, a clutch hitter, and went on to manage the Senators in 1921. (His tenure abruptly ended, however, when a ball struck him during batting practice, leaving one side of his face paralyzed.)

And finally an open-air, natural grass stadium for the Twins? What a swell idea. Maybe they can hold a Super Bowl there, too after New York and Washington get one.

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