- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 10, 2004

A moment of silence, please, for Rodney Dangerfield, the only diver to successfully execute the Triple Lindy in competition. (See “Back to School.”)

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For you youngsters out there, Dangerfield was the guy who gave us the immortal line, “I went to a fight the other night, and a hockey game broke out.”

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Rodney was also extremely useful to sportswriters — and no doubt will continue to be. Whenever some player, team or organization didn’t “get no respect” — was underrated, in other words — he/it would be declared “the Rodney Dangerfield of [fill in the blank].” Some examples (courtesy of Google):

Conference USA: “The Rodney Dangerfield of Division I football leagues.”

San Antonio (Spurs): “The Rodney Dangerfield of the NBA.”

Scott Hoch: “The Rodney Dangerfield of golf.”

Beer: “The Rodney Dangerfield of alcoholic beverages.”

Virginia Tech: “The Rodney Dangerfield of college football.”

Race walking: “The Rodney Dangerfield of endurance events.”

Park City, Utah: “The Rodney Dangerfield of ski resorts.”

The black crappie: “The Rodney Dangerfield of gamefish.”

Robert Esche: “The Rodney Dangerfield of goaltenders.”

Soccer: “The Rodney Dangerfield of sports.”

Bowling: “The Rodney Dangerfield of sports.”

The referee: “The Rodney Dangerfield of sports.”

(Maybe I just should have done an item on how many things have been called “the Rodney Dangerfield of sports.” Sure are a lot of nominees.)

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The Sunday Column, of course, is known far and wide as the Rodney Dangerfield of Sunday columns.

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Isn’t it swell that Jamal Lewis can play against the Redskins tonight before serving a two-game suspension for trying to set up a drug deal?

It’s almost as heartwarming as Rafael Furcal being able to put off a jail term for drunk driving so he can suit up for the Braves in the playoffs.

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Hope the Ravens don’t get penalized for having an illegal federal marshal downfield.

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When exactly did professional sports become a holding tank?

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Lies, Damned Lies and Stats, Inc.: Redskins cornerback Fred Smoot is one of the least effective defensive players in the NFL through Week4, according to Stats Inc. Smoot has been thrown at 28 times and has yielded 18 receptions (64.3 percent) for 219 yards, making him the ninth least effective defender, the number-crunching company claims (in a chart that ran in the Los Angeles Times).

Sounds like fuzzy math to me, though. For one thing, Smoot has yet to give up a touchdown (and has broken up three passes). Corners Nick Harper of the Colts and R.W. McQuarters of the Bears, Nos.1 and 4 on the Least Effective List, have been burned for three TDs each. From where I’m typing, Freddie has been doing just fine.

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Did you read about David Carr getting his first haircut since last September after the Texans won two in a row for the first time ever?

Now if the Red Sox can just rid themselves of the Curse of the Bambino. Johnny Damon, I’m told, has been letting his hair grow since 1919.

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Elsewhere in pro football, the Steelers’ Kendrell Bell will miss at least the next two games because of what is being called a sports hernia.

Sports hernia … is that anything like writer’s cramp?

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Trivia question: While researching the handful of NFL teams that have won 18 straight games — the Patriots being the latest — I turned up two players who have been a part of two 18-game winning streaks. One was Hall of Fame tackle George Musso, who played on both the ‘33-34 and ‘41-42 Bears. Who was the other? (Answer below.)

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One of the most amazing things about the Pats winning 18 in a row is that, as recently as 1990, they lost 14 in a row.

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One last Ichiro stat: Ichiro Suzuki not only set a record this season with 262 hits, he also had 41 more hits than anyone else in the majors, another record. It’s unusual for the hits leader to have 25 more hits than the No.2 man, never mind 41. Indeed, it has happened just nine times in history — and Ichiro has done it twice, The particulars:

1904 — Napoleon Lajoie 211, Willie Keeler 186. Difference: 25 hits.

1910 — Lajoie 227, Ty Cobb 196. Difference: 31.

1917 — Cobb 225, George Sisler 190. Difference: 35.

1920 — Sisler 257, Eddie Collins 222. Difference: 35.

1925 — Al Simmons 253, Sam Rice/Jim Bottomley 227. Difference: 26.

1945 — Tommy Holmes 224, Goody Rosen 197. Difference: 27.

1973 — Pete Rose 230, Rod Carew 203. Difference: 27.

2001 — Ichiro 242, Bret Boone/Rich Aurelia 206. Difference: 36.

2004 — Ichiro 262, Juan Pierre 221. Difference: 41.

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Meanwhile, Ichiro’s Mariners teammate, Edgar Martinez, closed out an illustrious career by hitting into a double play. Edgar has plenty of company, though, when it comes to ignominious last at-bats. Consider:

• Joe Pignatano, Mets, 1962 — Hit into a triple play.

• Mickey Cochrane, Tigers, 1937 — Hit in the head by a pitch from the Yankees’ Bump Hadley. (His skull was broken in three places.)

• Goose Goslin, Senators, 1938 — Strained his back flailing at a Lefty Grove offering. A pinch hitter had to finish the at-bat for him.

• Willie Mays, Mets, 1973 — Struck out against the Expos’ Chuck Taylor (no relation to the sneaker).

(Contrary to popular belief, Dale Mitchell’s last at bat wasn’t when he took a called third strike to end Don Larsen’s perfect game in the ‘56 World Series. Two days later, in Game7, Mitchell pinch hit for Dodgers pitcher Don Bessent and grounded to short.

• • •

So I’m reading about Tiger Woods’ lavish $1.5million wedding in Barbados featuring a performance by Hootie and the Blowfish, and I’m thinking: Jack Nicklaus probably got married at the Columbus Elks Club and was serenaded by a polka band.

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Speaking of which, the polka band is indubitably the Rodney Dangerfield of musical groups.

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Unless the bell choir is.

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I think I speak for all of us when I say: Elin Nordegren [Tiger Woods’ model/bride] has a twin sister?!

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The ACC is reaping all kinds of benefits from letting Virginia Tech into the conference. Last Saturday’s Tech-Duke game, for instance, drew record ratings in Norfolk, Richmond and Raleigh as Jefferson Pilot’s “Game of the Week.” In the first two markets, the game attracted more viewers than the Ryder Cup, the Yankees-Red Sox game or any other college game in its time slot.

ACC schools also haven’t been shy about jacking up ticket prices for visiting Hokies fans. Wake Forest charged them $40 a seat yesterday — compared to the $25 that Florida State fans will be assessed later in the season. (Wake offers a $69 season-ticket package to its own fans.)

“Let the gouging begin!” my friend Robert, the Tech grad, e-mails.

• • •

Answer to trivia question: Bill Romanowski is the other player in NFL history who has been a part of two 18-game winning streaks — with the 49ers in ‘89-90 and the Broncos in ‘97-98.

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And finally …

News item: Kobe Bryant says Shaquille O’Neal paid off women to keep them quiet about sexual encounters.

Comment: There’s a joke here I can’t seem to put together. The punch line, though, has Shaq receiving, according to the terms of his contract, “$2million in deferred hush money.”

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