- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 1, 2002

Welcome to Washington: first in war, first in peace, but no better than third in the eyes of the U.S. Olympic Committee.

Oh, well, there's always the Pan Am Games.

It would be a lot easier to take, though, if there were somebody we could blame it on, like Marie Reine Le Gougne or that alleged Russian mobster.

Speaking of the Olympics, did you see that an IOC panel with the apparent blessing of president Jacques Rogge has recommended dropping baseball (and softball) from the Summer Games?
Maybe if we let Belgium win the Little League World Series next year

The IOC is said to be lukewarm about baseball because the top major league players never compete. But, heck, even if they did, most of them would probably flunk the steroids test, anyway.

No TV commercials during next year's Masters? This is really going to test America's kidney capacity.

Especially since all 18 holes are televised now on Sunday.

Hope it works out better than the NFL's announcer-less game in 1980. As the clock wound down in that one, NBC director Ted Nathanson was heard to mutter, "If this bleepin' game goes into overtime, I'm jumping out of the truck."

Augusta's 4-Year Plan:
2003 No commercials.
2004 No caddies. (Players have to lug their own bags.)
2005 No free drops. (Charge of $500 assessed to make up for some of loss in ad revenue.)
2006 No more stroke play. (Stableford scoring system implemented.)

Couldn't help noticing that Mike Hampton is hitting .383 for the Colorado Rockies. Imagine how much higher his average would be if he could bat against himself.

In memory of Hoyt Wilhelm, who died recently at 79, I bring you Hoyt's "Five Tips for Knuckleballers" (from "The Book of Sports Lists"):
1. Don't try to throw the knuckleball as an adult, unless you threw it as a kid.
2. Don't try to be a part-time knuckleball pitcher; there ain't no such animal.
3. Never let the ball spin. It won't if you throw it overhand and straight without breaking the wrist.
4. Throw every day.
5. Don't panic if your knuckler isn't working today; it will come back tomorrow.

To which I might add:
6. Make sure your catcher is wearing a protective cup.
7. Preferably made of Kevlar.
8. If one gets away from you and hits the on-deck batter, hey, it's not like he gets to take his base.
9. Don't listen to your friends. Chicks dig the knuckler.
10. Some of them don't like it, though, if your nails are longer than theirs.

Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez needs a name for his blooper pitch. All the other rainbow-ballers had one. Rip Sewell's was the "Eephus" pitch. Steve Hamilton's was the "Folly Floater." Bill Lee's was the "Bloop Curve." Dave LaRoche's was "LaLob." Since El Duque seems to win every time he throws the thing, why don't we call it the "Arc de Triomphe"?
"Undisputed," the recently released boxing flick, is more entertaining than a month of ESPN "Fight Nights."

I also wouldn't be surprised if Wesley Snipes and Ving Rhames appeared in the next WBA rankings.

Stranger things have happened. The WBO once had a dead guy (Darrin Morris) as its No.5 super middleweight.

My favorite line in the movie is when George "Iceman" Chambers, Rhames' character, says, "I'm not an athlete, I'm a gladiator. People play baseball. Nobody plays boxing."

You've gotta hand it to the New England Patriots. They do all the little things. Before the game against the Redskins, they covered the glass on either side of their coaches' booth with plastic trash bags so people in adjoining boxes couldn't spy on them. "I've never seen another team do that," a source at FedEx Field says.

By the way, after I interviewed Bill Belichick's dad Steve last week, I immediately logged on to the Internet and bought a used copy of his 1962 book, "Football Scouting Methods" a bargain at $19.95 (shipping included).

It was the last copy available at BookFinder.com. Eat your heart out.

Steve, if you can believe this, told me the book is "boring" which I took to mean that it's highly technical. I promise to run passages from some of the more "boring" parts in future Sunday Columns.

My suspicion is that the Redskins opted to keep Ethan Albright, their higher-priced long snapper, at least in part because they didn't want him going to the Cowboys (who've been desperate for help at that spot since free agent pick-up Jeff Robinson blew out his knee). Note that when the Snydermen cut their other long snapper, seventh-round pick Jeff Grau, Jerry Jones quickly grabbed him. It could turn out to be one of the most significant roster moves Joe Mendes makes all season, especially if Grau bounces a few back to the punter in Dallas.

So much for hiking notes. On to rock climbing.

That 65-yard field goal the other night by Broncos backup Ola Kimrin was quite a boot, but it wasn't the first time the existing record (currently 63 yards) was surpassed in a preseason game. In fact, it's happened twice before. Pete Gogolak kicked a 57-yarder in his first exhibition game with the Buffalo Bills in 1964, a yard longer than the pro mark at the time (held by the Colts' Bert Rechichar). And in 1949, Nick Scollard of the New York Bulldogs nailed a 55-yarder in the preseason against Green Bay (existing record: 54, by the Lions' Glenn Presnell). Scollard wound up kicking only six field goals in his four-year NFL career, which ended that season.

Just thought you might want to know.

Something I stumbled across while researching the previous item: Were you aware that Redskins VP Pepper Rodgers went to training camp with the Baltimore Colts in 1954? Yup, they drafted him in the 25th round (292nd overall) after taking Ordell Braase in the 14th, Alex Sandusky in the 16th and somebody named Raymond Berry in the 20th. For some reason, this information isn't included in the Redskins media guide. Maybe it's because Pepper didn't make the team or because of Dan Snyder's well-known fondness for Baltimore.

Rodgers' entry in the Colts' 1954 media guide: "They don't call him 'Pepper' for nothing! He has the zip, desire and cocky attitude to make the grade in the big time. The only question mark on his record is his size [5-10, 170]. Not a 'cutey' like Frankie Albert, Rodgers is rather a posed, confident youngster who has shown he is at his best when the going is toughest. Georgia Tech coaches give him their stamp of approval and 'Pappy' Lewis of West Virginia, whom Tech soundly defeated in the last Sugar Bowl, says, 'Rodgers is as good a quarterback as there is in the country.'"

The QBs the Colts kept in '54 when they cut Pepper: Gary Kerkorian, Cotton Davidson and Fred Enke.

Too bad the Redskins released defensive tackle Donovan Arp. I'd already penciled in a "World According to Arp" column for bye week.

You know men's tennis is in trouble when one of the big stories at the U.S. Open is Tommy Haas' sleeveless shirt.

And finally
News item
: Actor Jason Priestley, badly injured in a crash last month, announces he won't return to oval-track racing.
: That's the best idea I've heard since Andy Kaufman decided to give up wrestling.

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