- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 18, 2005

Imagine: A Redskins game on Dec. 18 that actually means something. Ain’t it grand?

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Memo to Donovan McNabb: I’ve heard of the AP poll, but I didn’t realize there was an NAACP poll, too.

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No matter what happens to the four Vikings charged in the infamous “Love Boat” episode, I’ll never be able to look at the Bucs’ Pirate Ship the same way again.

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Little-known fact of Minnesota law: If the players are found guilty, they can appeal. But if the appeal is turned down, they lose a timeout.

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So I’m reading the charge against Daunte Culpepper, about him placing his hands on the naked buttocks of a “dancer,” and I’m thinking: Hey, wait a minute. Didn’t the NFL do away with the “in the grasp” rule?

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Ex-Redskin Fred Smoot, meanwhile, was accused of using a sex toy on two women. His lawyer has come up with a brilliant strategy, apparently. I don’t know all the specifics, but it has something to do with the “Cover 2” defense.

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The aforementioned crimes, by the way, are misdemeanors. Fortunately for the players, they avoided more serious charges — such as having more than 11 in a huddle.

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Yup, it was a great week for the Redskins’ 2001 draft (masterminded, let’s not forget, by Marty Schottenheimer). Rod Gardner, their No. 1 pick, got released by Carolina, and Smoot, their No. 2, got charged in Minnesota. Fortunately, they didn’t have a No. 3 (which went to the Chiefs for Herr Schottenheimer).

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The next time you think of booing a football player for putting the ball on the ground, remember the words of Raiders running back LaMont Jordan. “If you’ve ever dropped an infant,” the onetime Maryland Terp says, “that’s how you feel when you fumble.”

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From the Great Minds Think Alike Dept.:

• Headline on the cover of Sports Illustrated (featuring a photo of the Seahawks’ Shaun Alexander): “Do You Know His Name?”

• Headline on page 18 of the Sporting News (also featuring a picture of Alexander): “Do you know me?”

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Actress Alyssa Milano in the January issue of Esquire: “I don’t know why I go out with pitchers. Maybe because I’m fascinated by the fact that these guys can stand up there in front of 55,000 people on the mound, totally alone, totally isolated, and throw a ball 95 miles an hour into a little strike zone. Or maybe because they’re the only ones who’ve asked me out.”

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Milano has dated, at one time or another, Carl Pavano, Barry Zito and Brad Penny — though, to her credit, she’s rebuffed the advances of Burleigh Grimes.

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A shrink could probably have a field day with Alyssa’s hankering for hurlers. After all, her father in “Who’s the Boss?”, Tony Danza, pitched the deciding game of the World Series in “Angels in the Outfield.”

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It’s pretty obvious why Pavano and the others haven’t gotten her to the altar. I mean, there isn’t a closer in the bunch.

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Easily the most popular item in a charity auction being held in Boston is lunch with Theo Epstein, the former Red Sox general manager. Bidding has reached $15,600, according to the Web site for the Home for Little Wanderers (www.thehome.org), the agency for at-risk children that will get the dough.

“Who would pay that much money to have lunch with Theo?” Epstein’s twin brother Paul told the Boston Globe. “He’s not that good company.”

The leading bidder as of noon yesterday was “cursereverser.”

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Cursereverser. That couldn’t be John Henry’s screen name, could it?

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A mere $15,600 for lunch with Theo Epstein. And check out the fine print: “Liquor not included.”

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News item: Mets sign 47-year-old Julio Franco to two-year, $2.2million deal.

Comment: Is that $2.2million in salary or term life insurance?

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Elsewhere in baseball, the Royals reached contract agreements with free agent infielders Mark Grudzielanek and Doug Mientkiewicz. The team isn’t done shopping, either. Sources say GM Allard Baird would like to add at least one more player with five vowels in his last name.

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Nomar Garciaparra, come on down!

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Statistical note: If, as expected, ex-O’s pitcher Sidney Ponson finishes his five-day sentence for drunken driving this weekend, it’ll be his first complete game since April 24.

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Those attending the Arena Stage production of “Damn Yankees” may recognize the voice of the off-stage announcer. It’s none other than Phil Hochberg, longtime P.A. guy at RFK Stadium.

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Moving to hoops, did you see Princeton scored only 21 points the other night against Monmouth? The Tigers had 11 at halftime but couldn’t keep up the pace.

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The game was delayed briefly in the second half when one of the peach baskets had to be repaired.

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“We weren’t attacking the basket,” Princeton coach Joe Scott said. Weren’t attacking the basket? The Tigers were having trouble identifying the basket.

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During one second-half stretch they went 14:54 without scoring. Good thing ESPN wasn’t there. Dick Vitale with that much dead air to fill is a scary thought.

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Just wondering: How did Princeton go from Bill Bradley scoring 58 points in a Final Four game to the entire Tiger team scoring 21 against a former junior college?

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And finally …

Sports Illustrated writer Alexander Wolff is starting an American Basketball Association team in Barre, Vt., next year — the Vermont Frost Heaves.

A word to the wise, Alex: It’s a short trip from Frost Heaves to Dry Heaves.

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