- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 8, 2002

The Sunday Column wishes a speedy recovery to The Washington Times' Rick Snider, currently climbing the walls at Fairfax Hospital after undergoing minor heart surgery Friday. Snider, gamer that he is, refuses to be placed on injured reserve and will return to duty after a month or so on the inactive list. The sports section will miss his dogged Redskins reporting but will try to soldier on.

If it's OK with you, I'm going to bend the rules and put Rick down as questionable (50-50) for today's Redskins-Cardinals skirmish. (I'm sure Marty Schottenheimer, that old injury fudger, would approve.)

Guess we can forget about the Redskins winning the Super Bowl. According to numbers cruncher Steve Hirdt of the Elias Sports Bureau, no team that averaged fewer than 17 points a game in a season has ever walked off with the Lombardi Trophy the next year. "It doesn't matter how many points Steve Spurrier's Redskins might score in the upcoming regular season," Hirdt writes in ESPN the Magazine. "The die was cast last year, when the Skins averaged only 16 points per game. This rule also eliminates the Bengals, who averaged only 14.1 points in 2001."

The latest odds on who will score the first Redskins touchdown in the Spurrier era:
5-1 Chris Doering.
12-1 Stephen Davis.
20-1 Champ Bailey.
500-1 Zeron Flemister in Week 2.

"Tank McNamara" gave Dan Snyder another going over last week, chiding him for his snide and, typically, misinformed remarks about Ravens counterpart Art Modell. In one strip, Tank tells a talk-show guest, "Your most bitter rival owner is one of the NFL's most revered patriarchs. He helped make the league what it is today." To which the Snyder-inspired guest replies, "So now you get credit for breathing? Of the two of us, who's the innovator? Who thought of making season-ticket holders buy private space licenses in the parking lot? Who sold advertising space above the push-here-to-flush buttons?"

Personal Parking Space Licenses. Why didn't Dan think of that?

Don't worry. He will.

This college football score just in: Wisconsin 27, UNLV 7, Nevada Power Co. 0.

By the way, the over-under in the Runnin' Rebels' game against Kansas last night was 57. If you bet the over and the lights stayed on more than 57 minutes you won.

UNLV's adventures last weekend reminded me of a 1949 game between the Chicago Bears and the Los Angeles Rams at the Coliseum. In that one, most of the fourth quarter was played in virtual darkness because the lights, for some reason, weren't turned on. It was a rather important game, too, and essentially decided the Western Division championship. (Which is why a crowd of 86,080, an NFL record, attended.)
"It was hard for the fans to follow the ball [in the last nine minutes]," the Los Angeles Times reported. "The Bears finally tried to take advantage of the darkness by hiding out a player on a dimly seen sideline. [But] even [quarterback] Johnny Lujack missed him and fired a pass to a covered teammate on the opposite side of the field. Coliseum manager Bill Nicholas says he got word from the Rams to have the lights off. [He] finally turned them on on his own initiative just before the last play of the game" in time to see the home team run out the clock in a 27-24 victory.
"Bear coach George Halas will undoubtedly have a great deal more to say than his mumbling following the game yesterday once he views his motion pictures," the Times said. "They, however, are most likely to be on the blurred side, even though the cameraman was using fast film. It was that dark when the game was finished."

A brief word about Frankie Albert, who died Wednesday at 82. Contrary to what the obituaries say, Albert wasn't the first T-formation quarterback Sid Luckman beat him by a year but he was a terrific little (5-9, 160) player for the 49ers in the early days and a master of the unexpected. One of his favorite stunts was faking field goals and extra points without telling the kicker.
One year, teammate Joe Vetrano recalls in "San Francisco 49ers: The First 50 Years," "I was in a competition with Harvey Johnson [of the New York Yankees] to become the first kicker to kick 100 PATs [without a miss]. I had 99, and Johnson had 98. We scored, and I was getting ready to go for the conversion. I took a step forward and looked down, and the ball was gone! Albert stood up and threw a pass to Alyn Beals for the PAT."
After Albert had pulled that a few times on Gordy Soltau, Vetrano's successor, Soltau pleaded, "Look, Frankie, I would like to go through one season with my leg attached to my body."

The long and short of it: Akiko Fukushima of the LPGA Tour hits her drives an average of 269.3 yards farther than 17 players on the men's tour. Among them: Mark Brooks (269.1), Billy Mayfair (268.3), Loren Roberts (267.3), Scott Verplank (266.7), Scott Simpson (264.0), John Cook (263.3) and Corey Pavin (256.9).

If I were Pavin, I'd seriously consider corking my driver.

Venus vs. Serena, loser does the dishes. It doesn't get any better than that.

Here's why I can't get too excited about Lleyton Hewitt, the latest prince of men's tennis: When Hewitt won last year's U.S. Open, he beat Andy Roddick, Yevgeny Kafelnikov and Pete Sampras in his final three matches. When he won Wimbledon earlier this year, his last three victims were Sjeng Schalken, Tim Henman and David Nalbandian. Compare those opponents with the ones Sampras and Andre Agassi had to face when they won their first majors.
Sampras, '90 U.S. Open Thomas Muster in the round of 16, Ivan Lendl in the quarters, John McEnroe in the semis and Agassi in the finals. (All major champions, three of them multiple major champs.)
Agassi, '92 Wimbledon Boris Becker in the quarters, McEnroe in the semis, Goran Ivansevic in the finals. (All major champions, two of them multiple major champs.)
Hewitt's got game, no question about it. But how many great players has he beaten in the Slams when they were at their peak?

A question for those of you who've seen "Signs," M. Night Shyamalan's new thriller: How did you respond when you found out that Joaquin Phoenix's character, Merrill Hess, was the holder of several minor-league home run records? All I could think of was: He must have broken the mark Crash Davis set in "Bull Durham." I'll bet Kevin Costner is bummed.

Well, Fabian Kowalik can rest easy wherever he is. The A's 20-game winning streak is history.

Kowalik is the guy who gave up the extra-inning homer that snapped the Cubs' 21-game winning streak in '35 longest of the lively ball era (and No.2 all time to the '16 Giants' 26-game streak). Had the A's managed two more victories and passed the Cubs, he would have descended further into Chicago sports infamy.

I'm still not sure the A's feat wasn't greater than the Cubs'. After all, the first 18 wins in Chicago's streak were at home. Oakland had a 10-game road trip in the middle of its run.

Three other things that happened in baseball while the Cubs were winning 21 straight in 1935 (courtesy of BaseballLibrary.com):
1. Sept. 7 The Indians beat the Red Sox 5-3 with the help of a bizarre triple play. With no outs and the bases loaded in the ninth, Boston's Joe Cronin lines a pitch off the side of the head of Cleveland third baseman Odell Hale. Shortstop Bill Knickerbocker catches the ball on the fly and throws to second baseman Roy Hughes, who fires to first baseman Hal Trosky to end the game.
2. Sept. 17 Outfielder Len Koenecke, released by the Brooklyn Dodgers, gets booted off an American Airlines flight in Detroit for being drunk. He charters a plane to fly him home to Buffalo, but once in the air tries to take over the controls and starts scuffling with the pilot. The co-pilot hits him over the head with a fire extinguisher and kills him.
3. Sept. 22 The Yankees win four of five events against the Red Sox during a pre-game Field Day at Fenway Park. Ben Chapman edges teammate Jesse Hill in the 75-yard dash, Joe Glenn prevails in the fungo hitting with a 350-foot wallop and the Yanks capture both the walking relay and the four-man relay around the bases (each runner taking a lap). The only Red Sox victory comes when catcher Rick Ferrell pegs a ball directly into a barrel at second base.

The U.S. basketball team might not have won a medal at the world championships, but I hear the players got some lovely parting gifts.

A one-way ticket to Palookaville, for instance.

And finally, the U.S. losing in the world basketball championships is like Betty Crocker losing in a bakeoff.

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