- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 8, 2004

Baltimore-Washington might have dropped to 17th in the Sporting News’ annual survey of sports towns, but cheer up, folks. We’re still comfortably ahead of Wappingers Falls, N.Y.

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FYI: Wappingers Falls (No.347) is the home of the Hudson Valley Renegades of the New York-Penn League.

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News item: U.S. men beat Serbia-Montenegro in Olympic basketball tuneup.

Comment: A quality win, to be sure. I mean, you know what they say: If Serbia doesn’t get you, Montenegro will.

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Gary “the Glove” Payton is a perfect fit for the Celtics, winterwear-wise.

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Maybe they can make another trade and team him in the backcourt with Tony Parka … I mean Parker.

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Tony Massenburg’s NBA career has come full circle. The former Terp broke in with the Spurs in 1990 and now, 13 wardrobe changes later, he’s back with them. Since he was last in San Antonio, “Suitcase” Tony has played for the Hornets, Celtics, Warriors, Clippers, Raptors, 76ers, Nets, Grizzlies (twice, in both their Vancouver and Memphis incarnations), Rockets, Jazz and Kings.

The man should have been whistled for a traveling violation a long time ago.

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Has anybody ever gotten more mileage out of 2,801 rebounds than Tony?

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The greeting on his voice mail should be: “The number you have reached is no longer in service .

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I can hardly wait for the Expos to move here, just so we can hold a Zach Day Day.

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So it turns out it was a Case of Mistaken Identity, that Roger Clemens never did anything to warrant getting ejected from a kids’ baseball game. Boy, that’s a relief. For a while there, I thought he might be ineligible to get thrown out of the Little League World Series.

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Larry Walker, just traded from the Rockies to the Cardinals, reportedly is selling his manse in Colorado. I can imagine the real estate ad:

Luxurious home set on 6.4 wooded acres in Evergreen. Eight bedrooms, nine baths, one unidentified dead body. Price: $8.33 million.

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My recent column on Jeff Allison, the drug-troubled former No.1 pick of the Marlins, brought this e-mail from reader Mike Flynn: “You mentioned that he should know better because of the Len Bias tragedy. Living in the [Boston] area, I also find it disturbing that he grew up one town away [in Peabody] from former Red Sox prospect Mike Spinelli [Revere], whose career was also derailed due to drugs.”

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Ichiro Suzuki — yes, him again — had his second five-hit game in a week Tuesday against the Orioles. Which got me wondering about five-hit games (being a closet seamhead and all). Some quick research bore the following fruit:

• Two five-hit games in six days (the span for Ichiro) isn’t, believe it or not, a record … or even close. In 1971, the Pirates’ Roberto Clemente had back-to-back five-hit games against the Dodgers. And in 1984, Dave Winfield had two five-hit games in three days. Also, Nomar Garciaparra had two in four days last year — how quickly we forget — and Kenny Lofton had two in five days in 1997.)

• Ty Cobb has the most five-hit games in major league history, 14. Pete Rose owns the National League mark of 10.

• Rose’s last five-hit game came in his final season in 1986, when he was a player-manager with the Reds. His age: 45 years, three months, 27 days.

cJust the other day, Rose cracked: “If Mrs. Niekro had a couple more kids, I’d have had 5,000 hits.” I now understand why. Pete had a five-hit game against the Braves in 1973, and all five hits were off Phil Niekro (who courageously went the distance, allowing 11 hits total, in a 6-4 Atlanta win).

cPaul Molitor, who has the only five-hit game in World Series history — for the Brewers in the 1982 opener against the Cardinals — had seven other five-hit games in the regular season. The last was in 1998 at the expense of the Orioles, two weeks before his 42nd birthday.

• Tony Gwynn had more five-hit games in 1993 (four) than Wade Boggs did in his entire career (three).

• Babe Ruth had six five-hit games.

• Junior Spivey not only had two five-hit games in his first 42 games as a big leaguer, in one of them he went 4-for-4 against Greg Maddux.

(Much thanks to the folks at Retrosheet.org for furnishing the raw data that makes such an item possible.)

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Trivia question: Who had the only five-hit game in a league championship series? (Answer below.)

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Angels manager Mike Scioscia on Ichiro (as quoted by the Seattle Post-Intelligencer): “I think he could get five hits in four at-bats.”

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Worth reading: The interview with sportswriting icon W.C. Heinz, still spry at 89, in the current issue of American Heritage. At one point, Heinz talks about his frustration working with Vince Lombardi on “Run to Daylight!” (one of the best sports books ever).

“I said to [Lombardi], ‘You have no audiovisual recall,’” Heinz says, “and he said, ‘What the hell is that?’ I said, ‘I just made it up. You don’t remember how anything sounded or what it looked like.’ He immediately said, ‘That’s right.’”

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The best part is … well, I won’t spoil it for you. I’ll just say that the story begins with Heinz telling Sugar Ray Robinson, “You and I fought the same guy.”

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Ricky Williams must be furious about all the grief he’s getting for hanging ‘em up at 27. After all, Smarty Jones just called it quits after nine races and nobody’s dumping on him.

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In fact, the fillies are literally lining up to welcome Smarty into retirement.

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Some guys have all the luck.

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Memo to Dolphins fans: If you’re wondering what to get Ricky for Christmas, I’d suggest a weed whacker.

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Which brings us to the Courtroom Exchange of the Week (courtesy of the Roanoke Times):

New Kent County (Va.) Judge R. Bruce Long: “I have standing in front of me a young man with enormous potential who seems to be on a self-destructive path. Am I wrong?”

Virginia Tech quarterback Marcus Vick: “Yes, sir.”

Long: “Are you going to prove to me that I’m wrong?”

Vick: “Yes, sir.”

Long: “I hope you’ll take advantage of it and turn yourself around and get headed in the right direction. … I will put you in jail no questions asked [if you mess up again].”

(Vick was fined $300 and had his driver’s license suspended for 60 days after being convicted of reckless driving and possession of marijuana.)

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Answer to trivia question: O’s center fielder Paul Blair had the only five-hit game in a league championship series, going 5-for-6 with two doubles, a homer and five RBI in the third and final game of the 1969 ALCS (an 11-2 pasting of Billy Martin’s Twins). Blair victimized five pitchers: Bob Miller, Dick Woodson, Al Worthington, Dean Chance and Ron Perranoski.

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Glad to see the NCAA is doing something about these weekend recruiting bacchanals that have been such a source of embarrassment for some schools. According to Portland’s Oregonian newspaper, the University of Oregon brought in 25 football recruits one weekend this year and wound up spending $140,875 on them — or $5,635 a head. Gotta love having Nike boss Phil Knight as one of your sugar daddies.

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The motto of the Oregon athletic department should be: Just overdo it.

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And finally …

At the University of Georgia, meanwhile, the basketball program has been placed on four years’ probation, and three players have been asked to return their Phi Beta Kappa keys.

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