- The Washington Times - Saturday, May 24, 2003

So much for the Annika Sorenstam craze. Not only did she fail to make the cut at the Colonial, she wasn’t even low Swede.

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We certainly learned a lot about Annika in those two days, though. Such as: If you’re ever playing a $2 Nassau against her, always make her putt out.

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Aw, come on. I’m just foolin’ around.

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Still, before anybody starts comparing Annika to Babe Didrikson, the last female golfer to challenge the men, let’s see how she does in the javelin, the 80-meter hurdles and the high jump. Babe was world class in all three. (Plus, I’m pretty sure she once wrestled hubby George Zaharias to a draw in a steel-cage match.)

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Did you hear about Katie Couric switching jobs with Jay Leno — and “Today” show anchor Ann Curry doing likewise with Mia Hamm? What’s next, Willard Scott swapping seats with Don Zimmer?

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Some prominent Alabama football boosters reportedly are miffed that the school hired Mike Shula without even extending the courtesy of an interview to Forrest Gump.

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News item: Tennessee Titans quarterback Steve McNair is charged with drunken driving and illegal possession of a firearm.

Comment: (Insert your own shotgun-offense joke here.)

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The NFL is looking into a claim that the Pottsville (Pa.) Maroons, and not the Chicago Cardinals, deserved the 1925 title. To which Neal from Gaithersburg says: “The Cardinals are so pathetic. Not only can’t they win now, they can’t win 78 years ago.”

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More from “True Believers: The Tragic Inner Life of Sports Fans,” (Henry Holt, $23) by Joe Queenan, who’s rapidly becoming my favorite sports curmudgeon:

“No sooner was the ink dry on [Dan] Dierdorf’s ABC death warrant than CBS offered him a high-paying job as Dick Enberg’s partner. In doing so, the network seemed to be suggesting two things. Theory No.1 posited that while Dierdorf had worn out his welcome with the highly demanding, incredibly sophisticated audience that watched football on ABC on Monday nights, his style was more than adequate for the needs of the entirely different audience of fat, illiterate drunks who watched football on a different channel on Sunday afternoons.

“Theory No.2 posited that the announcer talent pool was so thin that anybody with major network experience was worth hiring as soon as he became available. Even if he had already been fired. Ignominiously.

“Well, maybe not O.J.”

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Congrats to Steve Spurrier, who got his fourth career hole-in-one last week in his golf tournament at Landsdowne (9-iron, 115-yard 15th hole). This is one of the benefits of trading most of your draft picks. You’ve got a lot more time to work on your short game.

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The note in last Sunday’s column about Belus Smawley, one of the inventors of the jump shot, brought this e-mail from Bart Mitchell of Brooklandville, Md.:

“Talk about a name you thought you’d never hear again! I was about 11 or 12 years old when Belus was in Baltimore — and a huge Bullet fan.

“While my memory of this may not be just right, I do clearly remember a little more about the shot than [you] mention[ed]. Yes, he did turn 180 degrees and jump [a little]. The shot was a bit of a fadeaway. And the ball was directly over his head and was [released] two-handed.

“As a kid playing basketball, I naturally tried the shot myself. The result was ugly.

“Belus’ shot probably remains the most unique ever in the game. Unless you want to talk about Fat Freddie Scolari. But that’s a story for another day.”

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Next week, perhaps. (Mr. Mitchell willing.)

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Real-life news story: Wizards owner Abe Pollin says, “I have never said anything negative about Michael Jordan, and I never will.”

Applicable line from Hollywood movie: “I don’t get tough with anybody, Mr. Gittes. My lawyer does.” (Evelyn Mulwray in “Chinatown”)

Real-life news story: ACC threatens existence of Big East by making overtures to Miami, Syracuse and Boston College.

Applicable line from Hollywood movie: “Leave the gun, take the cannoli.” (Clemenza in “The Godfather”)

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Speaking of which, in my Thursday column I wrote: “To hear [Big East commissioner] Mike [Tranghese] tell it, the ACC is Wallis Simpson, and Miami is King Edward VIII.”

What I really should have said was: “the ACC is Bruno Hauptmann, and Miami is the Lindbergh baby.”

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Or maybe: “the ACC is King Kong, and Miami is Fay Wray.”

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A lawyer acquaintance tells me he wouldn’t be surprised if the Big East takes the ACC to court. “I believe [Mike Tranghese] is setting them up for the mother of all lawsuits,” he says. “He used a nice legal term in his diatribe the other day: ‘irreparable harm.’”

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Think of the Cavaliers’ drafting of LeBron James as a territorial pick. The NBA used to have those in the old days (1947-65) to give teams as a little help at the gate. That’s how Wilt Chamberlain got to play for his hometown Philadelphia Warriors — and how Oscar Robertson, a star at the University of Cincinnati, wound up with the Cincinnati Royals.

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Some other well-known territorial picks:

1950 — Paul Arizin (LaSalle High School/Villanova/Philly Warriors).

1956 — Tommy Heinsohn (Holy Cross/Celtics).

1962 — Dave DeBusschere (University of Detroit/Pistons) and Jerry Lucas (Ohio State/Cincy Royals).

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Trivia question: The last year of territorial picks was 1965, when three were made. The Pistons took Bill Buntin of the University of Michigan, the Lakers grabbed Gail Goodrich of UCLA and who was the third? (Answer later in column.)

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Amazing, isn’t it, that this is the first time since 1990 that the team with the worst record won the NBA lottery? Imagine how different the league might be if Tim Duncan or Allen Iverson had been drafted by the Grizzlies, Shaquille O’Neal had gone to the T-Wolves or David Robinson had ended up a Clipper.

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The Wizards shouldn’t feel too bad about having the 10th pick. After all, Paul Pierce was a 10th pick (in ‘98), as were Eddie Jones (‘94), Horace Grant (‘87), Paul Westphal (‘72) and a fellow named Jeff Malone (‘83).

And let’s not forget, the second-best player in last year’s draft might have been the 10th pick, Caron Butler.

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On the other hand, Bison Dele (then Brian Williams) was also a 10th pick (‘91). So was Bill Robinzine (‘75), the victim of Darryl Dawkins’ most celebrated slam dunk. Darryl dubbed it the “Chocolate Thunder Flying, Robinzine Crying, Teeth Shaking, Glass Breaking, Rump Roasting, Bun Toasting, Wham Bam, Glass Breaker I Am Jam.”

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They don’t make ‘em like the Dawk any more.

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My favorite 10th pick of all time: Myer Upton “Whitey” Skoog, by Minneapolis Lakers in 1951. (Whitey, a Minnesota grad, played six seasons with the Lakers, winning three titles.)

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Quote of the Week comes from the Lakers’ Robert Horry, who said of his 30-for-94 shooting in the playoffs (including two of 38 on 3-pointers): “I don’t know if you have a word that’s the opposite of heroic.”

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Answer to trivia question: The third of the NBA’s three territorial picks in 1965 was Princeton’s Bill Bradley, who went to the Knicks.

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Renteria (as in Edgar, the St. Louis Cardinals’ shortstop). Sounds like a compulsive need to lease something.

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Sorry, but I couldn’t help myself. After I read about Mike Maroth being “the first Tigers pitcher to start 0-9 since Ted Gray in 1953, I just had to find out about this Gray guy. Three little-known facts:

1. He pitched in the 1950 All-Star Game — and gave up the game-winning homer to the Cardinals’ Red Schoendienst in the 14th inning.

2. He played for four different teams in 1955 — the White Sox, Indians, Yankees and Orioles — which ties the major-league record. (Somehow, he appeared in only 14 games that season and logged just 23⅓ innings.)

3. After his 0-9 start in ‘53, he went 10-6 the rest of the way.

See? Every pitcher tells a story.

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And finally, Washington has been named a finalist for the 2008 Super Bowl.

Just wondering: Is that anything like being named a finalist for the 2012 Olympics?


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