- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 1, 2003

So I’m with my two kids at the cineplex last week, getting ready to take in the 6:10p.m. show of “Bruce Almighty,” and who do you suppose walks past me, a cap pulled down low on his forehead?

Dan Snyder.

With him are fellow Redskins owner Fred Drasner, personnel honcho Vinny Cerrato and Snyder’s legally blonde wife, Tonya. They, too, are there to see Jim Carrey’s new movie, Cerrato informs me.

The Snyder delegation loads up on popcorn and other goodies at the refreshment stand and hunkers down, quite prominently, in the first row of the second section — the one with all the leg room. The Daly delegation, which prefers a longer view, settles in near the back. There are perhaps 50 people in the entire theater.

That’s all. Nothing much else to report — except that Snyder and Co. bolted as soon as the credits started rolling and missed the outtakes, some of which were pretty funny.

• • •

In one scene of “Bruce Almighty,” God (played by Morgan Freeman) wears a Yankees cap. “That explains a lot,” my 12-year-old, a devoted Red Sox fan, commented afterward.

• • •

On the Canadian Football League front — if there is such a thing — the Stampeders seem to be running a halfway house up in Calgary. In recent weeks, they’ve added ex-Redskin Albert Connell and ex-everything Lawrence Phillips. Connell was last seen in New Orleans in 2001, making an unauthorized withdrawal from Deuce McAlister’s wallet (as part of a “prank,” he claims). He was in training camp with the Arena League’s Orlando Predators earlier this year but was waived before the start of the season.

• • •

Albert found the downsized field in Arena ball too confining — or so he told the Calgary Sun. “I’m more of a stretch-the-field guy,” he said. “It was so small, I couldn’t do too much. I love the wide field [in the CFL]. You get more room to work, and I feel I’m a dangerous guy in the open field.”

And an even more dangerous guy in an empty locker room.

• • •

His agent, Peter Schaffer, spun it this way: “No player of Albert’s pedigree, drafted into the NFL and who has proven himself in the NFL, has played in the CFL — except for maybe Rocket Ismail.”

Schaffer has obviously never heard of Bud Grant, who got taken in the first round by the Philadelphia Eagles in 1950, was among the NFL’s leading receivers in ‘52 (56 catches, 997 yards, seven touchdowns in 12 games) and then went on to fame and fortune in Canada. There are plenty of others I could mention (e.g. Tobin Rote, Eddie LeBaron, Vince Ferragamo), but no sense in piling on.

• • •

Neal from Gaithersburg isn’t too keen on this Shea Hillenbrand-to-Arizona deal. “I always thought Shea should be playing for the Mets,” he e-mails. “Just like I always thought Mickey Rivers should have played for the Pirates.

• • •

My return e-mail: “Right, Neal, and when you were a kid you probably thought Marco Polo should be playing for the New York [Baseball] Giants.”

• • •

Neal’s follow-up e-mail: “Unfortunately, they couldn’t pry him away from the Trans-Asia League.”

• • •

Don’t you just hate guys who have to get in the last e-mail?

• • •

I’m one of those guys. Usually.

• • •

Speaking of Shea — the stadium, that is — how about one more offering from Joe Queenan’s “True Believers: The Tragic Inner Life of Sports Fans” (Henry Holt, $23): “Shea’s most offensive feature, perhaps, is that it has retained a lugubrious, unhygienic, proletarian environment while continuing to charge fat-cat, luxury-box prices. Beers: $6. Three bottles of spring water and two tiny boxes of Cracker Jacks: $19.75. Spending an afternoon at Shea is like spending the night with an ancient, toothless, leprous hooker and then being asked to fork over $500. There was absolutely nothing wrong with the assignation. But it should have been priced competitively.”

• • •

In other baseball news, a man wanted by police is back in jail after being caught on camera kissing his girlfriend at a Cincinnati Reds game. You know, instead of using all this expensive technology to catch criminals, maybe the cops should just invest in a few “Kiss Cams.”

• • •

The man, David Horton, could spend 18 years in prison if convicted. He faces multiple charges — for drugs, violating his parole and being a Reds fan (the latter a class A felony).

• • •

Loyal reader Jim Black phoned in this addendum to an item some Sundays back about ‘30s and ‘40s pitcher Johnny Allen: “You forgot to mention that he once tried to distract batters by shredding his right sleeve so it would flutter around. He got away with it for about two months before it was outlawed.”

• • •

Mr. Black knows whereof he speaks. Allen’s antics came during the 1938 season in the midst of a 12-game winning streak he reeled off for the Indians. Finally, on June7 at Fenway Park, umpire Bill McGowan ordered Allen “to cut off part of [the] shirt sleeve,” according to BaseballLibrary.com. “Allen refuses and walks off the mound. He is fined $250 by Cleveland manager Oscar Vitt, who makes a pitching change to avoid a forfeit. The Indians win the game, 7-5. Tribe owner Alva Bradley hurries to Boston and buys the shirt for $250; the shirt is then displayed at Higbee’s Department Store, owned by Bradley’s brother. The shirt later makes its way to the Hall of Fame museum in Cooperstown.”

• • •

All together now:

those were the daaaaays.

• • •

Injuries (Chris Webber, Dirk Nowitzki) have certainly wreaked havoc with the NBA playoffs. Which got me wondering: How often does this happen — players getting hurt in the postseason, that is, and affecting who wins the title? Some quick research turned up the following:

• 1949 — Our own Washington Capitols lost leading scorer Bob Feerick (ankle) en route to the finals and also had starter Fred Scolari get “banged up” (whatever that means). The Caps battled George Mikan and the Minneapolis Lakers valiantly, but fell in six games.

• 1954 — By the finals, Syracuse’s Dolph Schayes and Earl “Big Cat” Lloyd were both playing with casts on their hands. The “Bandage Brigade,” as the newspapers dubbed the Nationals, lost to Minneapolis in seven.

• 1958 — Maybe St. Louis would have knocked off the Celtics anyway. As Hawks hero Bob Pettit points out in “Tall Tales,” Terry Pluto’s oral history of the early NBA, “The year before, we took Boston into double overtime in Game7 and lost to a healthy [Bill] Russell. We had a great team.” But it certainly helped to have Russ miss nearly three games of the ‘58 finals with a badly sprained ankle — and to be a virtual non-factor when St. Louis took the championship in Game6.

• 1971 — The Bullets, then in Baltimore, were undone in the finals by injuries to Wes Unseld, Gus Johnson and Earl Monroe — their top three players. All but helpless, they got swept by Lew Alcindor (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) and the merciless Milwaukee Bucks.

• 1973 — The Celtics tied the NBA record with 68 victories in the regular season, but John Havlicek’s hyperextended shoulder in the conference finals against the Knicks killed their title chances. New York wound up winning it all.

• 1989 — Magic Johnson pulled a hamstring in the Finals opener, and it was all downhill from there for the Lakers. The Pistons beat them four straight.

• • •

And finally, I think all this commotion about a 13-year-old soccer player getting a $1million contract from Nike is much Adu about nothing.


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