- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 28, 2004

Is it just me, or has the footage of the Pacers-Pistons brawl been analyzed more closely than the Zapruder film?

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Before long, they’ll be referring to a fuzzy figure on the fringe of the fighting as Badge Man.

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There’s apparently some disagreement about how many cups of beer were thrown during the fracas — three or four. Experts are examining tapes of the radio broadcast to see if they can pin it down.

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The Pacers wasted no time replacing their four suspended players. They signed two Crips and two Bloods.

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Question: Why did Ron Artest punch a Pistons fan in the face?

Answer: Because Don Zimmer wasn’t available.

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You’d think NBA players would be on their best behavior after the Artest Atrocity, but nooooo … Just four days later, the Pistons’ Rasheed Wallace got tossed for throwing his headband out of bounds. And the day after that, Indianapolis police had to use a stun gun to subdue the Timberwolves’ Michael Olowokandi when he refused to leave a bar.

No wonder Hubie Brown lost his “spirit” and retired as coach of the Grizzlies.

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“I guess it stems off the [expletive] that happened the other night,” Wallace said of his ejection (as quoted by the Detroit Free Press). “[Referee Tony Brothers] said it’s a tech now for throwing stuff in the stands. I just questioned the man and asked him, and he said it’s always been like that, which I know for a fact it hasn’t [been] for the simple fact that I did it a couple of games this year … and it wasn’t a tech. With Artest out, I know I’m on that blacklist. The bull’s-eye is on my back. I already see it. I’ll have to adjust.”

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Perhaps that’s the answer for the NBA: ban headbands.

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Did you see the clip of Charlie Brotman, Washington’s ageless sports publicist, strong-arming a protester at the Nationals’ press conference last week? I’m tellin’ ya, if “Boom Boom” Brotman had been in charge of security at the Palace of Auburn Hills, none of this nonsense would have happened.

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Fear the Brotman.

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Not long after the spitting episode between the Steelers’ Joey Porter and the Browns’ William Green, I came across this passage in a 1986 profile of Ted Williams by Richard Ben Cramer (recently reprinted by Esquire): “In 1956, Ted came forth with his Great Expectorations. In a scoreless game with the Yankees, in front of Fenway’s biggest crowd since World War II, he was booed for an error, and he let the fans know what he thought of them: he spat toward the right-field stands and spat toward the left, and when the fans rained more boos on his head, he leaped out of the dugout and sprayed all around.”

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Moral: The only thing new in this world is the history you don’t know (as Harry Truman once said).

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They might want to move the tees back at Poipu Bay, home of the PGA Grand Slam of Golf. Tiger Woods shot a 61 there last year, and Phil Mickelson topped him a few days ago with a 59 — despite hitting just five fairways.

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Nine little-known facts about the three “official” 59s shot on the PGA Tour — by Al Geiberger at the ‘77 Danny Thomas Memphis Classic, Chip Beck at the ‘91 Las Vegas Invitational and David Duval at the ‘99 Bob Hope Chrysler Classic:

1. Beck is the only one who didn’t win the event in which he carded a 59. (He placed third behind Andrew Magee and D.A. Weibring.) He’s also the only one who hasn’t won a major. (Geiberger captured the ‘66 PGA and Duval the ‘01 British Open).

2. Geiberger was 13 under in the second round. The runners-up in the tournament, Gary Player and Jerry McGee, were 12-under for 72 holes.

3. Duval is the only one to post his 59 on Sunday. To add to the drama, he birdied the last hole for a one-stroke victory over Steve Pate.

4. Which of the 59ers faced the toughest course conditions? Well, on the day Geiberger shot his miracle round, nobody else shot lower than 65 (Raymond Floyd). On the day Beck did it, three other players shot 63 (Steve Jones, Tommy Armour III and Mike Standly). And on the day Duval did it, two other players shot 64 (Paul Goydos, Steve Stricker).

5. Beck had had little success at Las Vegas Country Club before his 59. In his four previous appearances there, he’d missed the cut three times and tied for 40th the other. (And after his 59, he missed the cut at Vegas the next three years — though the event was played at a different course, the TPC at Summerlin).

6. Geiberger is the oldest to post a 59; he was 2 months shy of his 40th birthday. Beck was 35, and Duval was 27.

7. Brush With Greatness Award: Near as I can tell, the only player who was entered in all three tournaments where 59s were shot was Bruce Lietzke. Lietzke tied for 29th at Memphis in ‘77, was sixth at Las Vegas in ‘91 and missed the cut at the Hope in ‘99. (Note: Jay Haas could have been on the premises for all three 59s, but he skipped Memphis in ‘77 to prepare for the U.S. Open, which was the next week.)

8. Brent Geiberger, Al’s son, plays on the PGA Tour. His low round is 61 (in the 2000 Hope). Bob Duval, David’s father, plays on the Champions Tour. His low round is also 61 (in the ‘99 Emerald Coast Classic).

9. Al Geiberger (Colonial ‘79) and Chip Beck (New Orleans ‘92) won just once more on the PGA Tour after shooting their 59s. David Duval has won four times, but we all know what’s happened to him. In other words: Lots of luck, Phil.

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It’s a tough time of year for the Redskins to be looking for a linebacker. This late in the season, you usually can’t beg, Barrow or steal one.

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Edgerrin James, Clinton Portis and now Willis McGahee — that’s quite a run of running backs from one school (in this case Miami). But is it the best of all time? Compare it to these groups:

• Syracuse (1954-67) — Jim Brown, Floyd Little, Larry Csonka.

• Southern Cal (1967-81) — O.J. Simpson, Clarence Davis, Ricky Bell, Marcus Allen.

• Auburn (1975-83) — William Andrews, Joe Cribbs, James Brooks, Lionel James.

• Tennessee (1991-2000) — Charlie Garner, James Stewart, Jamal Lewis, Travis Henry. (The first three already have rushed for 5,000 yards in the NFL, and the fourth, Henry, almost certainly will.)

Any other nominees?

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ABC threw an interesting graphic up on the screen last Monday night. It was a list — a very short one — of the only NFL players since 1982 who have had 25 interceptions and 25 sacks in their careers. One of them was the Patriots’ Rodney Harrison, who was playing that night against the Chiefs. The Other Guy, however, caught me completely by surprise.

My first guess would have been Rod Woodson. (Nope. Rod had 71 interceptions but only 13 sacks).

My second guess would have been Wilber Marshall. (Wrong again. Wilber had 44 sacks but only 21 picks.)

Anyway, it turned out to be William Thomas, a two-time Pro Bowl linebacker for the Eagles in the ‘90s. Thomas had 27 interceptions (with a high of seven in ‘95) and 37 sacks (with a high of 6 in ‘93). A pretty fair player who, somehow, fell through the cracks of history.

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Clemson’s football team getting into a post-game melee … Where have we seen that before, Maryland fans? (If memory serves, it was after the Terps’ 34-31 victory at Death Valley in ‘85.)

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By the way, maybe it was a misprint, but one newspaper I read had the Tigers scoring their 29 points against South Carolina on two TDs, a field goal, three takedowns and a couple of near pins.

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Because of the episode, neither school will be accepting a bowl invitation this year. If Clemson really wanted to teach its players a lesson, though, it would make them go to the MPC Computers Bowl.

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And finally …

News item: Missouri discovers its new basketball arena is named after a woman (the daughter of a Major Contributor) accused of academic cheating at Southern California.

Comment: What could be more fitting than a college basketball arena named after somebody who might have bluffed her way through school?

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