- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 7, 2004

A question that probably will never be answered: Why do the Washington Expos get a new name but not the Utah Jazz, Memphis Grizzlies or Los Angeles Lakers?

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I can hear it now: The Washington Nationals, brought to you by National Bohemian beer

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Natty Boh is still being brewed, you know — not in Baltimore, its birthplace, but in San Antonio of all places. Yup, Texas not only stole our expansion Senators, it stole our beer, too.

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News item: Kevin Millar says the Red Sox did shots of Jack Daniel’s before games during the ALCS and World Series.

Comment: In a related story, the Boston City Council has changed the name of Yawkey Way to Bourbon Street.

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If it wasn’t booze that changed the Sox’s luck, it may have been, well, I’ll let Johnny Damon explain it:

“I do naked pull-ups,” the hirsute center fielder says in the current issue of People. “It’s that kind of free style that’s propelled us to the next level.”

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Naked pull-ups. I’m pretty sure that was an event in the first Olympics.

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Or am I confusing it with nude tug-o’-war?

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Keyshawn Johnson wants to “spank” Fox’s Pam Oliver — “with a ruler really, really hard” — because of what he says was an inaccurate sideline report about him.

Oliver vows that if the Cowboys receiver tries any such thing, “I will punch him in the face.”

How much would you pay to see these two lovebirds on “Blind Date”?

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The Redskins, in the midst of negotiations with potential free agent Fred Smoot, couldn’t have been too thrilled to see the deal the Eagles gave Sheldon Brown (six years, $30million, $7.5million to sign). Brown, after all, had started only three games before this season. Smooter, on the other hand, has been a mainstay since he was drafted in 2001.

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With Shawn Springs (six years, $31.3million) at one corner, Smoot (who figures to top that) at the other and Sean Taylor (six years, as much as $40million) at free safety, doesn’t something have to give, cap-wise, for the Redskins? Makes you wonder if the club is going to be able to re-sign Chris Samuels — especially with another high (read: ridiculously expensive) first-round draft pick on the horizon.

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Ben Roethlisberger is God’s way of forgiving the Steelers for taking Gabe Rivera over Dan Marino in 1983.

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Can’t believe the Broncos haven’t asked for a recount of Jake Plummer’s 499-yard day against the Falcons — this being the election season and all.

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FYI: No quarterback in NFL history has ever come so close to a 500-yard passing game — of which there have been just eight — without getting one. The previous record holder was Joe Namath, who threw for 496 yards against the Colts in 1972. The nearest misses after that were by Boomer Esiason, with 490 against the Rams in ‘90, and Tommy Kramer, with 486 against Your Washington Redskins in ‘86.

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Trivia question: Plummer broke the team record for passing yards in a game that belonged to whom? (Answer below.)

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Don’t worry about Jake, though. He’s got plenty of company — illustrious company — in the Close But No Cigar Hall of Fame. The only major leaguer to hit 59 homers in a season, for instance, is Babe Ruth (in 1921). And the list of running backs who have rushed for 199 yards in a game includes Eddie George (1999), Terrell Davis (‘98 playoffs), Curtis Martin (1997), Eric Dickerson (1983) and Earl Campbell (1978).

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The Heisman may be out of reach for Purdue’s Kyle Orton but, after losing three straight, he’s still got a heck of a shot at the Seneca Wallace Award.

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How Quickly We Forget Dept.: Adrian Peterson, fabulous though he is, is actually the fifth freshman running back at Oklahoma to rush for 200 yards in a game. The others: Earl Johnson (259 vs. Colorado, 1983), De’Mond Parker (244 vs. San Diego State, 1996), Marcus Dupree (239 vs. Arizona State in the ‘82 Fiesta Bowl) and Mike Gaddis (213 vs. Oklahoma State, 1988).

Parker and Dupree, like Peterson, also topped 1,000 yards for the season, as has one other freshman back for OU — Spencer Tillman in 1983. Johnson, Parker and Tillman were redshirt freshmen, however (unlike Peterson and Dupree). Much thanks to the folks at SoonerStats.com for making this information available.

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Do yourself a favor and check out SoonersStats sometime. One of its best features is weekly AP football polls going back to the beginning, 1936. You can type in “George Washington” and “1956,” for example, and follow the game-by-game progress of the Colonials, who were ranked as high as No.14 that year (before settling in at No.17). That was the GW team that went to the Sun Bowl and finished 8-1-1.

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The Colonials’ big star was running back Mike Sommer, who was the 15th player picked in the 1958 NFL Draft (by the Redskins). Sommer, believe it or not, was an earlier selection than Hall of Famer Tuffy Leemans 22 years earlier. Tuffy was merely the 18th pick (by the Giants).

(Sommer also played for the Colts and Raiders during his five seasons in the pros. He was a local boy all the way, graduating from Wilson High School in the District.)

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It’s incredible how many Significant Streaks have been snapped in recent weeks: the Red Sox’s 86-year streak, the Patriots’ 21-game winning streak, the Terps’ 0-for-14-against-Florida State streak, the Redskins’ presidential election streak, the Lions’ 24-straight-road-losses streak.

If I were Maryland, I’d be trying to sneak in a game against Penn State between now and the end of the season. (The Terps haven’t beaten the Lions in their last 28 tries.)

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Of course, the way things are going for the Paternos, Maryland should probably get Penn State back on the schedule permanently.

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Yes, that was Bobby Simmons, Michael Jordan’s discovery, dropping 30 points on the SuperSonics in the Clippers’ season opener — on 13-for-15 shooting. Will Simmons be the next Wizard That Got Away (joining Ben Wallace et al.)?

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Vijay Singh Stat of the Week: Going into the Tour Championship, the Fijian Phenom had won more money this year — $10,725,166, to be exact — than Tom Watson ($9,892,128), Craig Stadler ($9,730,968), Curtis Strange ($7,599,951) and Ben Crenshaw ($7,091,166) did in their entire PGA Tour careers. And if Vijay finishes sixth or higher this weekend, he can overtake Tom Kite ($10,937,613), too.

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Bonus stat: A victory at East Lake would be Singh’s 10th of 2004, the most since Sam Snead racked up 11 in 1950. But in one of those tournaments, the weather-shortened Bing Crosby Pro-Am, Snead wound up in a four-way tie for first (with, among others, Smiley Quick), and another of his wins was in a team event, the Inverness Four-Ball Invitational (with Jim Ferrier). In my mind, then, a 10th individual title by Vijay would top Slammin’ Sammy’s feat.

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The 1950 Tour schedule, by the way, ended with — how’s this for nostalgia? — the Havana Pro-Am.

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There was a Tour stop in Havana until 1958, and then, I dunno, something must have come up.

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I can’t make up my mind which tournament I miss more, the Havana Pro-Am or the Rubber City Open.

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Answer to trivia question: Plummer’s 499 passing yards last Sunday broke the Broncos record of 462 by … Gus Frerotte (vs. the Chargers in 2000).

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And finally, Tom Lehman is an inspired choice for U.S. Ryder Cup captain. I mean, a lot of people who aren’t golf fans tune in to the matches, and Tom will be able to put everything in Lehman’s terms for them.

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