- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 16, 2004

Did you see Warren Sapp was on “Hollywood Squares”? I wouldn’t go to Warren to block, though. I’d go to him to tackle.

• • •

Hey, maybe Deion Sanders will be making an appearance on the show — now that he’s hardballed himself out of his CBS job. (But judging from the way he played, I’m not sure I’d go to Deion to block or to tackle.)

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My favorite award in all of sports has to be the Arena Football League Defensive Player of the Week.

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Stat of the Week (courtesy of Bill Roth of hokiesports.com): No fewer than 42 future NFL Draft picks played in Miami’s 26-24 win at Virginia Tech in 2001, including 15 first-rounders. (The Hurricanes had 27 of the 42 draft picks and 15 of the 17 No.1s.)

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On the subject of stats, couldn’t help noticing that in the fifth inning last Sunday at Arlington, Texas, the Tigers scored eight runs in the top half and the Rangers answered with 10 in the bottom half. Yes, it was the highest-scoring fifth inning in major league history, but it was also, near as I can tell, the first time a team has ever gotten eight runs in an inning and been outscored in that inning. The previous record: Seven runs by the New York Giants in the ninth inning vs. the Boston Braves on June20, 1912. (The Braves countered with 10 in the home half but still lost, 21-12.)

The Giants, incidentally, stole 11 bases in that game to set a modern National League mark.

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Something I just stumbled across: You always hear about Babe Ruth getting thrown out trying to steal second to end the 1926 World Series (with cleanup hitter Bob Meusel at the plate). Well, while perusing the record book for the previous item, I noticed that Babe’s manager, Miller Huggins, still holds the NL mark for getting caught stealing in a season. Miller was gunned down 36 times in 68 attempts for the Cardinals in 1914. (In other words, maybe he was the one who gave Ruth the steal sign.)

• • •

So I’m watching the DVD of the Ed Sullivan shows featuring the Beatles (1964-65) — yup, I’m that old — and Marty Allen and Steve Rossi come out and do a hysterical boxing skit. In it, the rotund Allen plays “the heavyweight contender who will fight the winner of the [upcoming] Cassius Clay [Muhammad Ali]-Sonny Liston fight.” (Sonny was actually in the audience, sitting next to Joe Louis, and Sullivan had the two of them stand up and take a bow.) Some of the highlights of Allen and Rossi’s routine:

Rossi: “What’s your trickiest punch?”

Allen: “My left hook.”

Rossi: “What’s so tricky about that?”

Allen: “I use my right hand.”

Rossi: “Hey, you know something? I don’t see any marks on your face.”

Allen: “I had my nose fixed.”

Rossi: “Oh. Did they straighten it?”

Allen: “They put it between my eyes.”

Rossi: “Who taught you how to fight?”

Allen: “Rocky Marciano, Joe Louis, Sugar Ray [Robinson] and Elizabeth Taylor.”

Rossi: “What did you learn from Elizabeth Taylor?”

Allen: “A lot more than I learned from Rocky Marciano and Joe Louis.”

Rossi: “What do you do after each fight?”

Allen: “I bleed.”

Rossi: “Do you watch all the movies of your fights?”

Allen: “No, [I look at the] X-rays.”

Allen: “You fought Marciano once, and I know you lost to him. Was that by a split decision?”

Rossi: “He split my mouth, split my nose …”

• • •

That, ladies and gentlemen, is entertainment — then and now.

• • •

In the fourth and final Beatles show the following year, the two comedians performed again. This time they did an all-sports skit, which featured the following exchange:

Rossi: “Are you gonna fight Sonny Liston?”

Allen: “Yeah, I got a minute.”

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Fascinating story in London’s Observer recently about how Roger Bannister might not have been the first to break the four-minute-mile barrier (only the first amateur). That distinction, Peter Radford writes, may belong to James Parrott, who in 1770 ran “well inside the target time,” according to the newspapers of the time — “for a wager of 15 guineas to five.” That’s right, 1770.

Radford also talks about “a runner by the name of Powell” running “within three seconds of the time” in 1787 — again for a significant wager. “One of the features of Powell’s time trial was that he ran stark naked,” says Radford, “as did many serious runners of that time.

“Our first report of a sub-four-minute mile,” Radford goes on, “three minutes, 58 seconds,” turns up in 1796, the work of a runner named Weller, who “was one of three brothers who ran races in the Oxford area, all for money.” You might want to dig up the whole article on the Internet. (Typing observer.guardian.co.uk/ sport will get you started.)

• • •

My Virginia Tech source informs me that Wake Forest is charging Hokies fans more than other visiting fans for football tickets this fall. “I just spent $167 for four tickets,” he e-mails. Forty dollars a pop — plus handling. Carolina fans, meanwhile, will pay $32 to see their team play at Wake, and Florida State, Duke and Boston College fans will pay $15 or $25, depending on seat location.

“People said VT brought nothing to the table in [the ACC] expansion,” he cracks, “but they certainly like our money.”

Tech fans have always given their team tremendous support on the road — and their new ACC lodge brothers, it’s clear, intend to cash in on it.

• • •

Roger Clemens’ 7-0 start ain’t half-bad for a going-on-42 pitcher. He still has some work to do, though, to match what Warren Spahn did in 1963, the year he turned 42. Pitching for Braves team barely above .500 (84-78), Spahnie went 23-7 with a 2.60 ERA, a league-high 22 complete games, seven shutouts — and made the All-Star team. (The 23 wins and seven shutouts tied his career best in those categories.)

The highlight of his season, however, might have been his classic duel with Juan Marichal in July. The game was scoreless going into the bottom of the 16th inning — both pitchers went the distance — and then Willie Mays homered to give the Giants a 1-0 victory.

Spahn might have won the Cy Young Award that year … if Sandy Koufax hadn’t decided to become, well, Sandy Koufax (25-5, 1.88 ERA, 306 strikeouts, 11 shutouts). It was Spahn’s last winning season. The next two years he went 6-13 and 7-16 and finished up in the minor leagues.

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From Tom Jordan’s “40 Things Track Has Taught Me” in “Track and Field News”:

“8. Stretching is the last Commie Plot.

“Like adding fluoride to tap water, stretching is an attempt to undermine the American Way of Life. It’s a gimmick that in my observation causes more injuries than it prevents. Maybe some light post-workout stretching can be beneficial, but pre-workout stretching should be banned. Ron Clarke and John Walker, two highly successful athletes with extremely long careers, eschewed it in favor of light jogging to begin each workout. They knew a Commie Plot when they saw one.”

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One of the best sports Web sites I’ve come across is “GolfObserver.com.” The “golfstats” section is sensational. You can look up, for instance, Jack Nicklaus’ week-by-week results as far back as 1970. Not even the PGA Tour media guides give you that. (Jack missed the cut in the Kemper Open that year, by the way. Shot 73-74 and was out the door. Of course, the tournament was held in Charlotte back then — at Quail Hollow, site of last week’s Wachovia Championship.)

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Also, if you want to check out the finishers in the 1964 U.S. Open at Congressional, it’s just a few clicks away. (Davis Love Jr. was 43rd, at 22 over.)

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And finally …

News item: An NCAA gambling study shows 35 percent of male athletes have bet on college sports in the last year, and that gambling money has influenced the outcome of games.

Comment: And now, back to the Las Vegas Bowl …

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