- The Washington Times - Saturday, November 1, 2003

Thought for today: If you put Manny Ramirez on waivers and nobody claimed him, would it make a sound?

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Instead of trying to trade him, maybe the Red Sox should just rent Manny out.

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Which detail in the following news story strikes you as the most dubious?

One of Cuba’s top pitchers, Mael Rodriguez, has defected so he can play professionally in the United States. Rodriguez, a 24-year-old right hander, has a fastball that is said to regularly top 100 mph. He set a single-season strikeout record in Cuba with 263 in 178 1/3 innings three years ago.

A. Rodriguez can throw a fastball 100 mph.

B. Rodriguez once struck out 263 batters in 178⅓ innings.

C. Rodriguez is 24 years old.

Correct answer: C.

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The Sunday Column wishes everyone would stop talking about how Darrell Russell deserves a second chance. The man has already had a second chance … and a third. This is his fourth chance — for those of you scoring at home.

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Speaking of Russell, a San Francisco Chronicle reader had this reaction to the Redskins’ interest in him (as quoted by Tom FitzGerald in his “Open Season” column):

“I see the Redskins have ordered a ‘background check’ on Darrell Russell. Why don’t they just read the paper and save the money?”

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My buddy Robert figures it’s only a matter of time before the Redskins pick up Lawrence Phillips to bolster the running back ranks.

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Interesting column last week by Dan Barreiro of the Minneapolis Star Tribune about Brett Favre getting ready to start his 181st consecutive regular-season game, the longest active streak by any NFL player — and a record for a quarterback. Barreiro thinks the streak is comparable to Cal Ripken’s in baseball and argues: “Though Ripken topped Lou Gehrig’s Iron Man streak by the equivalent of little more than three seasons, Favre’s dominance over the previous quarterback leader, Ron Jaworski, is statistically even more eye-opening. Jaworski started 116 consecutive games. Favre leads his runner-up by more than four seasons, and the gap continues to widen.”

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Favre is a marvel, no question. But if you’re looking for the football equivalent of Ripken, try Walter Payton. From 1975 to 1987, Payton played in 195 straight games for the Bears — regular season and postseason. During that time, he carried the ball 3,961 times for 17,202 yards. You don’t think he took a little more abuse over the years than Favre? To me, Sweetness is the all-time Iron Man in any sport.

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Rich Tandler, author of “The Redskins from A to Z,” sends along these calming words:

“The Redskins are on a three-game losing streak going into Sunday’s game against Dallas. This is viewed as a catastrophe, but the truth is that it’s been worse. Much worse.

“On Dec. 17, 1961, Dallas came into D.C. Stadium to face a Redskins team that had not won since Oct.9, 1960. That adds up to 23 straight games without a win. (They had managed three ties during that span.) Dick James saw to it that the skid would end right there as he ran for 146 yards on 27 carries and scored a team-record four touchdowns. Dallas quarterback Eddie LeBaron did his best to extend his former teammates’ misery as he passed for three touchdowns, but the Redskins managed to hold the Cowboys off and come away with a 34-24 win.”

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Skid? Did Rich just refer to a 23-game winless streak as a skid?

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A three-game losing streak — now there’s a skid. A 23-gamer is more like … your parachute not opening from 40,000 feet.

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Neal from Gaithersburg writes: “I don’t know about you, but I can’t think of six words that get me more excited than: Snoop Dog guest stars on ‘Playmakers.’”

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Neal from Gaithersburg, who had a busy week, also writes: “I see where they’re thinking of moving the Nov.9 Chargers game to Tempe (Ariz.) again. Great. The NFL gives Arizona another team, and they’re worse than the Cardinals.”

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Quote of the Week: “Our players did a fantastic job of adjusting to the time, to being in two states in two days, in two different hotels. It was amazing they were able to keep their focus like they did.”

— Dolphins coach Dave Wannstedt after Miami beat San Diego 26-10 in a game played in Arizona because of the wildfires in California.

(Unbelievable. Back in the Golden State, firefighters are risking their lives, and Wannstedt is praising his players for being able to change time zones.)

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Former Redskins offensive line coach Jim Hanifan, closing out his career with the Rams this year, has a book out — “Beyond Xs & Os: My Thirty Years in the NFL” ($22.95, Sports Publishing, written with Bob Rains). Hanny’s tome pulls a lot of punches, but it does contain an intriguing passage about the Cardinals team he coached in 1985:

“[Early in the season] our drug problem really began to escalate. … By the third game, in New York against the Giants, [one player] was all messed up and didn’t play. When we got back to St. Louis, I went in and told the team management, ‘Here’s the deal. I’m cutting him. He’s out of here, and here’s the reason.’

“At that point in the season, I believe nearly one-third of our team, about 15 guys, were on drugs. I honestly believed that if we cut this one guy, it might send a message to the other guys. … [But owner Bill] Bidwill didn’t want to cut him. Even then he was thinking seriously about moving the Cardinals to another city, and our image around the country was that we were a good, young, exciting team. He was worried that if it got out that this team had a big drug problem, some of those cities that were interested in the Cardinals all of a sudden would not have been so interested. The young man stayed, and our drug problems got worse.”

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It would have been nice, though, if Hanny had spelled Richie Petitbon’s name right. (The book spells it Pettibone.)

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Wizards fans have to like what they’ve seen so far of Jarvis Hayes.

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Trivia question: Jeff (Houston Rockets) and Stan (Miami Heat) Van Gundy aren’t the only pair of brothers coaching in the same professional sports league. Name the other pair. (Answer later in the column.)

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Jeff Van Gundy to the Houston Chronicle: “Think about it: Two schmucks from Martinez, Calif., coaching in the NBA.”

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FYI: The Spurs’ season was only 6:21 old when coach Gregg Popovich drew his first technical foul. (Wonder what the NBA record is for quickest ‘T’ given to a coach in the opening game.)

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Answer to trivia question: In the NHL, Darryl Sutter coaches the Calgary Flames, and his brother, Brian Sutter, coaches the Chicago Blackhawks. (Back in 2002, there were three Sutter brothers coaching in the league — Darryl with the San Jose Sharks, Brian with the Blackhawks and Duane with the Florida Panthers.)

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Number of the Week: $5million. (What the grandson of Dr. James Naismith, inventor of basketball, reportedly wants from the Smithsonian Institution for the original 1891 rules to the game.)

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To break it down, that’s $2.5million for the pick, and another $2.5million for the roll.

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According to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, “The 13 original rules are still on the non-yellowing paper James Naismith typed them on in December 1891. The papers, which were removed from the family vault a little more than two years ago, were taped on cardboard in 1926 and are now covered with plastic to preserve them.”

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My favorite rule is No.5: “No shouldering, holding, pushing, tripping or striking in any way the person of an opponent shall be allowed. The first infringement of this rule by any person shall count as a foul, the second shall disqualify him until the next goal is made, or if there was evident intent to injure the person, for the whole of the game, no substitute allowed.”

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And finally …

That rule must have really ticked off Bill Laimbeer’s great-grandaddy.


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