- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 5, 2003

News item: The average length of a major league baseball game dropped from 2:52 to 2:46 this season, the fastest since 1989.

Comment: Expectorations per at-bat were also down, from 3.1 to 2.8, and crotch readjustments decreased from 1.9 to 1.6.

• • •

Trivia question (inspired by the Orioles’ termination of Mike Hargrove): What manager has the highest winning percentage in O’s history? (Answer below.)

• • •

So I’m reading about the last game at Veterans Stadium — and this souvenir-hunting Phillies fan getting caught walking out of a restroom with a toilet seat around her neck — and I’m thinking: Didn’t Ewan McGregor do something like that in the movie “Trainspotting”?

• • •

Let’s hope Saints fans don’t find out about this. They might replace paper bags with toilet seat necklaces.

• • c

The surprise isn’t that the Jets’ John Abraham was charged with drunk driving. The surprise is that it happened after his team played the Redskins and not before.

• c•

Gus Frerotte lives!

• • •

Want to hear something amazing? Gus never threw more than three touchdown passes in a game for the Redskins, but he has thrown five in a game for the Broncos (in 2000 against the Chargers) and four in a game for the Vikings (last week against the 49ers).

• • •

On the subject of touchdown passes, the Sunday Column is mildly perturbed the Colts didn’t let Peyton Manning go for it last Sunday night — that is, go for TD No.7, which would have tied the NFL record. No quarterback has had seven touchdown passes in a game since the Vikings’ Joe Kapp in 1969, and only five have accomplished the feat. I know Tony Dungy, class guy that he is, didn’t want to run up the score on Saints counterpart Jim Haslett, and he no doubt wanted to keep Manning in one piece, too, but opportunities like that don’t come along every week, or even every decade.

• • •

Little-known fact: Two of the five QBs who have thrown seven TD passes in a game did it against the Redskins. The details:

1. Sid Luckman, Bears, 1943 vs. the Giants: Luckman had his greatest game on, of all days, Sid Luckman Day at the Polo Grounds. It came just two weeks after the Redskins’ Sammy Baugh had broken the record by racking up six touchdown passes against Brooklyn. Sid established another league mark, since topped, by totaling 433 passing yards (the old mark was 335 by Baugh in the ‘37 title game). Bears coach Hunk Anderson showed no mercy, leaving Luckman in until he had decimated the Giants 56-3.

2. Adrian Burk, Eagles, 1954 vs. the Redskins: Burk was responsible for all his team’s points in a 49-21 win. Three of his TD passes went to Hall of Famer Pete Pihos and another three to Bobby Walston. From Rich Tandler’s ever-helpful volume, “Redskins From A to Z”: “Burk had been pulled from the game in the fourth quarter after his sixth [TD], but when assistant coach Charlie Gauer pointed out to head coach Jim Trimble that Burk had a chance to tie the record, Burk was put back in with 33 seconds left. He got No.7 on a low pass that Pihos scooped up in the end zone with 20 seconds on the clock.”

3. George Blanda, Houston Oilers, 1961 vs. New York Titans: Blanda came out smoking, throwing for five scores in the first half alone. He added two more in the second half — both to Billy Groman — as the Oilers wasted the Titans 49-13.

4. Y.A. Tittle, Giants, 1962 vs. Redskins: In a wild 49-34 affair, Tittle chalked up 505 passing yards, the second most in NFL history at the time. Former Redskin (and future Jets coach) Joe Walton was on the receiving end of three of his touchdown throws, including the one that tied the record.

5. Joe Kapp, Vikings, 1969 vs. Colts: Kapp strafed Don Shula’s last Baltimore team to the tune of 449 passing yards as Minnesota ran away with a 52-14 victory. Six Vikes receivers scored TDs — Gene Washington (two), Bob Grim, John Beasley, Kent Kramer, Dave Osborn and Jim Lindsey.

• • •

Assorted other tidbits about the aforementioned passers:

• Luckman’s seven-touchdown game came a week before his 27th birthday. Tittle’s came four days after his 36th birthday.

• Burk is the only one of the five who didn’t play in the league title game the year he had a seven-TD day. (The Eagles finished second in the East in ‘54 with a 7-4-1 record.) He was also, believe it or not, the color man on the Oilers radio broadcast when Blanda tossed seven touchdown passes against the Titans.

• Blanda booted the extra point after all seven of his TD throws.

• Kapp is the only one who didn’t lead the league in TD passes in the season in question. (He had 19 in ‘69, tying him for eighth.) Strange but true: He threw for only 40 touchdowns in his NFL career (following eight seasons in Canada) — a mere 15 after his big game against the Colts.

• • •

Three more tidbits:

• The 1950 Baltimore Colts — the original Colts — might have finished 1-11, but they had two QBs on the roster who would later throw seven TD passes in a game: Tittle and Burk.

• Luckman (42) and Tittle (14) wore numbers that were divisible by seven.

• Kapp was an 18th-round draft pick by the Redskins in 1959.

• • •

By the way, why do I keep reading that the Redskins’ Mark Rypien was the last NFL quarterback to throw six touchdown passes (in 1991 vs. the Falcons)? The last to do it was — how quickly they forget — the 49ers’ Steve Young against the Chargers in the Super Bowl after the ‘94 season.

• • •

Add Steve Smith’s name to the growing list of crybaby wide receivers in the NFL (the subject of my column last Thursday). The Panthers wideout was reportedly miffed last week that the club negotiated contracts with punter Todd Sauerbrun and defensive tackle Kris Jenkins, both 2002 Pro Bowlers, before getting around to him. He also whined that his bosses had called him a “marginal receiver,” when the word they really used — it was learned later — was “unproven.”

For the record, Smith’s 54 receptions last year tied him for 53rd in the league, and his 872 receiving yards tied him for 32nd. The biggest highlight, though, was his one-game suspension for punching out a teammate during a film session. Can you spell Michael Westbrook?

• • •

A friend says, “Your column on [troublesome] wide receivers left out Rae Carruth, the only active player in NFL history ever convicted of murder.”

(Yikes! How could I forget him?)

• • •

Comeback of the Week: When Virginia Tech cornerback Eric Green drew a 15-yard penalty for throwing the ball in the stands after scoring a touchdown against Connecticut, coach Frank Beamer went over to him and barked, “Act like you’ve been there before.”

To which Green replied: “But, Coach, I haven’t been there before.”

• • •

Answer to trivia question: Luman Harris has the highest winning percentage of any Orioles manager. Taking over in September 1961 for Paul Richards (who left to become GM of the new Houston franchise), Harris guided the O’s to a 17-10 record over the rest of the season — a .630 percentage. That’s better than Earl Weaver (.583) and Davey Johnson (.574). Of course, they managed a few more games than he did.

• • •

Harris gained much greater fame — or is it infamy? — in 1969 when, as skipper of the Atlanta Braves, he sent in Mike Lum to pinch hit for Hank Aaron. (And darned if Lum didn’t bang a double off Al Jackson.)

• • •

And finally …

If this new Nike driver — the Igniter — doesn’t work for Tiger Woods, I hear he’s going to try hickory shafts.

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