- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 20, 2002

If you don't quiet down out there, I'm going to confiscate your ThunderStix.

The National Enquirer is about to break a big story, I'm told, one that will rock the baseball world. Seems the tabloid has come across evidence that the Rally Monkey is distantly related to Mickey Dolenz.

So I'm reading the other day about Frank Thomas' "diminished skills," and I'm thinking: That's the first time I've heard that term used outside of divorce court.

Wouldn't a great title for Barry Bonds' autobiography be "Ball Four"?
Too bad it's already taken.

Speaking of bases on balls, it'll be interesting to see if Bonds challenges Babe Ruth's record for most walks in a World Series 11 in seven games in 1926. Rogers Hornsby's Cardinals hardly ever pitched to the Babe in '26. In the deciding game they walked him four times once as he was getting off the team bus.

That was the Series, you may recall, that ended with Ruth getting thrown out trying to steal second. (Curiously, there's no mention of this in "The Babe Ruth Story," the 1948 film starring William Bendix. But I'm sure it'll be included in the "director's cut.")

Remember when the Diamondbacks hired Buck Showalter as their manager nearly three years before they played a game? Well, one of the D.C. baseball groups should consider doing that with Lou Piniella. That way they could have everything set up just right when the Expos move to Portland.

Today's weather forecast for Green Bay: Temperatures in the low 40s (factoring in the wind chill), with a 10 percent chance of freezing your buns off.

Memo to Steve Spurrier: That's 40 degrees Fahrenheit, not Celsius.

Hey, it could be worse. The Packers' home finale against Buffalo on Dec.22 has been designated "Electric Blanket Day."

Historical note: In the old days, the Packers often played all their home games first (when the weather was warmer), then went on the road for the rest of the season. The last time they did this was in 1947, when their schedule began with six games in Green Bay and Milwaukee and ended with trips to Chicago (two), New York, Los Angeles, Detroit and Philadelphia. Their last home appearance that year was Nov.2, and their fans didn't see them play again until the following Sept.5, the date of a preseason game against Pittsburgh.

Not that it means anything, but did you know Dan Snyder isn't the first Snyder to run an NFL team? Back in the '20s and '30s, a man named Harry Snyder ran the Portsmouth (Ohio) Spartans, who later moved to Detroit and became the Lions. (Wish I'd been aware of that when the Snydermen met the Lions in the '99 playoffs. I could have turned it into a special edition of "Family Feud.")
Harry Snyder wasn't technically the Portsmouth owner; he did, however, head the board of directors. (The club was community owned, like the Packers are today.) A book about the team, Carl M. Becker's "Home and Away," describes him as "a prominent and longtime building contractor in the city." The Spartans lasted just four years in the NFL (1930-33), but they have the distinction of playing in the first championship game as well as the first indoor championship game in '32. Because of snow, they squared off against the Bears at Chicago Stadium, on a makeshift 60-yard field. (George Halas' team won 9-0, but some of the rule changes that came out of the game, such as hash marks and allowing passes to be thrown from anywhere behind the line of scrimmage, helped transform pro football.)

Correction: A few weeks ago, I ran an item about Redskins VP Pepper Rodgers going to training camp with the '54 Baltimore Colts. Turns out Pepper never went though he was mentioned prominently in their media guide that year (which is where I got my information).
"[Baltimore coach] Weeb Ewbank came down once and took me and another guy the Colts drafted from Georgia Tech, Leon Hardeman, out to dinner at Aunt Fanny's Cabin in Atlanta," he says. "That was our [signing] bonus. But I was in the ROTC in college and had signed a five-year military obligation, so pro football was out of the question. I ended up going to flying school and becoming an Air Force pilot. Then I got into coaching.
"It's funny. I always thought the Browns would draft me, not the Colts. Ewbank was an assistant in Cleveland before he took the Baltimore job, and I remember telling him, 'You know, Weeb, I can kick, too.' And he said, 'Pepper, Lou Groza's leg is bigger than you.'"

I keep waiting for a particular Redskins offensive lineman to get a hands-to-the-face penalty. Just so I can write that an opposing player had "a Stai in his eye."

News item: Terrell Owens scores a touchdown, pulls a Sharpie out of his sock, autographs the ball in the end zone and presents it to his financial adviser in the stands.
Comment: The guy must have unloaded Owens' ImClone stock just in time.

For his next trick, Terrell is going to sell the naming rights to his jersey. Don't be surprised if someday soon you see "Owens-Corning" stripped across his back.

Another possibility for the self-promoting receiver: The first see-through helmet.

The NFL has informed its clubs that a player in possession of a foreign object will be penalized 15 yards and might be booted from the game if the referee considers the object to be a safety hazard.
Those who would scoff at the notion of a pen being dangerous have obviously never seen Dan Snyder negotiate with a free agent.

Don't know how I missed this, but the Cowboys have a receiver named Rambo Ken-Yon Rambo, a second-year player out of Ohio State. Why they didn't also draft Rocky Calmus, I have no idea.

After Maryland's 34-10 gouging of Georgia Tech, I'm figurin' Peach Bowl for the Terps, I'm figurin' Tangerine, I'm figurin' Continental Tire?

That last bowl is held in Charlotte and will be played at halftime of a Carolina Panthers game. Winner gets a steel-belted radial, spray-painted gold.

You have to ask yourself: If Chris Downs can rush for 212 yards against Tech, who can't be a star in Ralph Friedgen's offense?

Chris Downs. Now there's a football name for you. It ranks right up there with Patrick Pass, Jerry Rush and Jim Kiick.

If I'm Peter Bondra or any other big-time scorer in the NHL I'm not sure I want anybody referring to me as a sniper. Ever again.

And finally, the Houston Rockets say Yao Ming, their 7-foot-5 Chinese center, will join them today or tomorrow. Whenever the power company is done moving some overhead lines.

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