- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 31, 2003

Before last week, Phil Mickelson was merely the Best Player Never to Win a Major. Now he’s the Best Player Never to Win a Major Who Also Pitched Batting Practice to the Toledo Mud Hens. Top that, Colin Montgomerie.

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The question on a lot of people’s minds, of course, is: Could Mickelson ring up Michael Jordan?

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Mud Hens pitcher Steve Avery, formerly of the Atlanta Braves, told the Toledo Blade: “Phil sort of pitches like me since I lost my fastball.”

• • •

Translation: Forget about pitching baseballs, fella. Stick to pitching wedges.

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During his stint on the mound, Mickelson faced three pitchers, a catcher batting .197, an outfielder batting .221 and, if I’m not mistaken, the grandson of Eddie Gaedel.

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At least he didn’t try to tell people he was related to Pete Mikkelson, the Yankees reliever in the ‘60s.

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Fun fact: If Mickelson is signed by Toledo, he’ll be the first right-handed pitcher in baseball history to be nicknamed “Lefty.”

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And if he ever gets brought up to the parent club, the Detroit Tigers, well, it’ll be great. Mike Maroth and Jeremy Bonderman can give Phil pitching lessons, and he can give them … pitching lessons.

• • •

Dave Fay, intrepid hockey writer for The Washington Times, is home from the hospital after a nasty scrape with a hit-and-run driver on the highway. Drop him a note if you get the chance. Or better yet, call him at home — preferably while he’s sleeping. The NHL is considering postponing the start of the season, I’m told, if Dave isn’t up and running by then. Get well soon, Dr. Puck!

• • •

The Booz Allen Open. How fabulous a name is that for our PGA Tour stop? If the organizers have any sense of humor, they’ll put up a big sign at Avenel’s front entrance that says: No Alcohol Permitted.

• • •

Trivia question: The following were once the names of which events on today’s tour? (Answers below.)

1. Home of the Sun Invitational (1961)

2. Ed McMahon-Jaycees Quad Cities Open (1975-79)

3. Flint Elks Open (1974-77)

4. Green Island Open (1970)

• • •

He goes over the line sometimes, but Bill Romanowski is still my kind of linebacker — the kind who’ll eat your liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti.

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Quote of the Week: “The main reason the league wanted the game to be completed is because of the integrity of the preseason. The fans have paid to see it. The commissioner felt it was important that we make every attempt, as long as it didn’t affect the safety of the fans or the players, to complete the game.”

— Green Bay Packers president Bob Harlan, after Thursday’s game against Tennessee was interrupted by a two-hour, 33-minute lightning delay.

• • •

Imagine talking about “the integrity of the preseason” after a game in which Brett Favre and Ahman Green stayed on the bench and Steve McNair got yanked early.

• • •

Give the Green Bay press box announcer credit for a sense of humor, though. Shortly after play resumed, the Pack’s Ryan Longwell booted a 40-yard field goal. Whereupon the announcer joked that the scoring drive took 1 minute, 24 seconds, “although it may have seemed like longer.”

• • •

Did you see what happened to poor Marvin Lewis the other night? His Bengals team outgained the Colts 504-160 but lost the game 21-20 on three return touchdowns — a 94-yard kickoff return, a 93-yard interception return and a 70-yard fumble return.

Welcome to Cincinnati, Marvin.

• • •

I’ve often wondered, in my idler moments, what the highest scoring NFL game was that didn’t include an offensive touchdown. I came across one recently in ‘71 in which 31 points were scored — eight field goals and one defensive TD. The Chiefs prevailed over the Bills, 22-9. But I’d be surprised if that was the record.

• • •

The Sunday Column promised an item this week on the college basketball career of Craig Kilborn, but Yours Truly ran into a snag: No one was answering the phone Thursday and Friday in the Montana State sports information department. So I’m going to put Kilborn on hold for a while and address an equally burning issue: How good a quarterback was Rick Arrington, Jill Arrington’s father?

My findings: The sideline siren’s dad played three seasons for the Philadelphia Eagles (1970-72) after graduating from Tulsa. In 17 games, he completed 47.5 percent of his 204 passes for 950 yards and three touchdowns, with nine interceptions.

He spent most of his time backing up Norm Snead and Pete Liske, though he did start a handful of games. His biggest day came in his rookie year, when he hit 16 of 30 passes for 134 yards and a TD in a 35-20 loss to the Cardinals. Later that season, he had a front-row seat when the Steelers’ Frenchy Fuqua — he of the platform shoes with water-filled heels and live goldfish — rushed for 218 yards against the Eagles.

Little-known fact: Arrington and Steve Spurrier appeared in the same game on Oct.3, 1971. Arrington was 5-for-6 for 56 yards and the Ball Coach 1-for-2 for 46 yards as the 49ers flogged Philly 31-3.

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So I’m reading about this 30,000-square-foot mansion Dan Snyder is refurbishing in Potomac, and I’m thinking: Why the heck didn’t he hold training camp there? Plenty of room for everybody.

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FYI: A football field (100 yards by 53⅓ yards) is 48,000 square feet.

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The Raiders just won $34.2million in damages from Oakland Coliseum officials — not nearly what they were hoping for but a considerable chunk of change nonetheless. Consider:

• “American Wedding” took in $34.2million in its opening weekend, making it No.1 at the box office.

• President Bush recently raised $34.2million for his re-election campaign during a six-week tour.

• Northrup Grumman was awarded a $34.2million contract late last year to design a new radar antenna for the B-2 stealth bomber.

• New York City is expected to receive about $34.2million from the Department of Homeland Security for the fight against terrorism.

• Canada is contributing $34.2million in humanitarian assistance to the people of Southern Africa.

• • •

Words of wisdom from Tampa Bay Bucs general manager Rich McKay (as quoted by the Los Angeles Times): “You don’t want to bet on winning a Super Bowl. Because when you bet on winning a Super Bowl, I can assure you that you will lose. And when you lose, the consequences will be that you won’t even be allowed to bet next year, because you’ll have to dismantle and take some players out of the equation. You have to have a view toward long-term.”

• • •

My Virginia Tech source says he just sold two of his tickets to the Miami game on EBay for “a cool $265” apiece.

“Two tickets for [Texas] A&M; are now going for $270,” he reports. “[Another] Miami pair is up to $335. … Ah, the joy of free enterprise.”

• • •

Answers to trivia question: 1. Tucson Open; 2. John Deere Classic; 3. Buick Open; 4. Southern Open.

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And finally, John McEnroe apparently isn’t a big fan of our NBA team. He was on David Letterman’s show the other night talking about Michael Jordan’s retirement, and he referred to Abe Pollin’s hoopsters as “the Bullets … or the Wizards or whatever they call them. … They stink,” he said, as the audience howled.

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