- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 20, 2005

Everybody’s making Jose Canseco out to be a bitter ex-ballplayer—if not a steroid-addled whackjob. But what he’s really upset about, I’m convinced, is that he isn’t on Michael Jackson’s witness list.

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Or maybe it’s that he wasn’t asked to pose for Sports Illustrated’s swimsuit issue.

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Speaking of flaxseed oil, the Giants are already making arrangements for the game Barry Bonds goes for the home run record. And how’s this for classy? Hank Aaron has agreed to throw out the first syringe.

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Who do you suppose registers higher on the Credibility Meter right now, Canseco or Reggie Fowler?

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Can you believe the stunt Fowler, the Minnesota Vikings’ would-be owner, pulled last week? His people issued a “biography” that was loaded with inaccuracies, particularly about his athletic adventures. About the only claim Fowler didn’t make was to have “played football at the University of New Hampshire with George O’Leary.”

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And to think O’Leary would be on the Vikings’ coaching staff if he hadn’t taken the head job at Central Florida.

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Vikes fans are understandably concerned. Because of his NFL “experience,” Fowler might want to suit up at linebacker.

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Actually, that might not be such a bad idea, considering how the Vikings tackle.

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FYI: Tom Brady isn’t the youngest quarterback to win three NFL titles—but he comes awfully close. Brady was 27 years, 6 months and 3 days old when the Patriots beat the Eagles in Super Bowl XXXIX; Sid Luckman, it turns out, was 27 years, 1 month, 5 days old when he won championship No. 3 with the Bears in 1943.

Note: Otto Graham (27 years, 13 days) was even younger than Luckman when he racked up his third title with the Browns in ‘48, but that was in the All-America Conference, not the NFL. Graham didn’t capture his third NFL championship until 1955, by which time he was 34.

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The Ravens’ Ray Lewis has opened “Ray Lewis’ Full Moon Bar-B-Que” restaurant in Baltimore. “Full Moon,” huh? Wonder if Randy Moss is a silent partner.

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Arthur Miller, who died recently at 89, didn’t just give us “Death of a Salesman” and Willy Loman, he also gave us Willy’s son Biff, a high school football star who lost his chance at a college scholarship when he flunked math. I’ve always wondered what became of the kid, and it’s in this spirit that the Sunday Column proudly presents Five Sports Figures Named Biff:

1. Biff Pocoroba—Catcher for the Atlanta Braves from 1975 to ‘84. A torn rotator cuff curtailed his career, and he finished with a .257 lifetime average and 21 homers in 1,457 at bats.

2. Herm “Biff” Schneidman—Reserve back on title-winning Green Bay Packers teams in 1936 and ‘38. Left pro football—never to return—to join the Navy after the 1940 season.

3. Lawrence McCeney “Biff” Jones—A member of the College Football Hall of Fame, Jones coached Nebraska to the ‘41 Rose Bowl and also put together teams that went 9-1 at Army (1927) and 7-0-3 at LSU (1933). (He has the added distinction of being the only man to be head coach of the Cornhuskers and the Oklahoma Sooners—the Sooners in 1935 and ‘36 and the ‘Huskers from 1937 to ‘41.)

4. Biff Wellington—Occasional tag team partner of pro wrestling champ Chris Benoit in the ‘80s and ‘90s.

5. James Patrick “Biff” McNally—Freshman forward on Army’s hockey team. Still waiting to break into the scoring column.

Honorable Mention: Biff Henderson—As David Letterman’s stage manager, Henderson has filed “reports’ from the World Series, Yankees spring training and (if I’m not mistaken) the NBA Finals.

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Biff Loman had a brother, you may recall, named Happy.

Don’t get me started on Happys.

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Another sports-related excerpt from Bob Dylan’s autobiography, “Chronicles: Volume One”:

“After Lou [Levy of Leeds Music Publishing] heard my [Woody] Guthrie song, he asked me if I ever wrote any songs about baseball players. I told him I hadn’t and he said there were some players worth writing about. … He knew a lot about the game and asked me if I ever heard of Paul Waner. Lou said Paul was a hitter who could blast a ball back at a pitcher 150 miles an hour and break his face. He was that accurate. Opposing pitchers were scared to ever dare brush him back at the plate and that Ted Williams could do that, too … that a pitcher would rather throw the ball in the stands than take a chance on hitting either of them.”

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I’m pretty sure Reggie Fowler also had that effect on pitchers.

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Retief Goosen never got a wake-up call Wednesday morning and missed his tee time for the pro-am at the Nissan Open—which, according to PGA Tour rules, disqualified him from the tournament.

I should have seen it coming, I suppose. I mean, I had him as my sleeper pick.

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Elsewhere in golf, Annika Sorenstam is seeking a divorce after eight years of wedlock. Since exchanging vows on Jan. 4, 1997, Annika has won 50 events (the first a mere eight days after the ceremony), five majors and more than $14 million on the LPGA Tour—and, oh yes, shot a 59.

Imagine what the woman could have done if she’d had a happy marriage.

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What I really meant to say was:

If I were her, I might have waited until I went into a slump first. As Crash Davis so eloquently put it in “Bull Durham,” “Never [mess] with a streak.” Sorenstam’s whole career has pretty much been a streak.

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Tonya Harding’s next ring opponent March 10 in Fort Lauderdale will be “Daisy D” … a female impersonator. If boxing doesn’t work out for “Daisy,” he/she can always try the Women’s British Open.

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In a recent issue of the Sporting News, Wizards TV guy Phil Chenier likened Gilbert Arenas to Jo Jo White, the Celtics’ fine guard from the ‘70s. There’s one big difference in their offensive games, though: White didn’t get to the foul line nearly as much as Arenas does. (In fact, Gilbert shoots about twice as many free throws as Jo Jo did.) A more apt analogy, for my money, would be Arenas and Sidney Moncrief.

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Of course, as good as Arenas is, he’s no Reggie Fowler.

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According to a chart that ran on the AP wire the other day, Savannah State (0-28) is just the sixth team in Division I basketball history to finish winless. The Tigers could bounce back quicker than you think, though. Prairie View, which went 0-for-the 1991-92 season, made the NCAA tournament only six years later (losing to Kansas by 58 points as a 16th seed).

The most miraculous recovery, however, was made by the Baylor Bears in the ‘40s. Baylor was 0-17 in 1944-45—the last war year—and came back the next season to qualify for the NCAAs (when only eight schools were invited). Two years later the Bears were national runners-up, and two years after that they placed fourth.

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Not that I’m expecting Savannah State to reach the Final Four anytime soon. A play-in game—sometime in the next decade—would be accomplishment enough.

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During the pandemonium that followed Virginia Tech’s 67-65 upset of Duke, my friend Robert reports, the following announcement was made over the Cassell Coliseum P.A. system:

“Whoever has Zabian Dowdell’s jersey, please return it to the scorer’s table. It’s the only one.”

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Bob Goodenow.

Boris Badenov.

Starting to sound almost the same, aren’t they?

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And finally …

News item: A Portland, Ore., man who put a tattoo on the right arm of Detroit Pistons forward Rasheed Wallace is suing to stop Wallace from displaying the work in ads for Nike basketball shoes.

Comment: It’s believed to be the first lawsuit involving a tattoo since Herve Villechaize’s wife filed for divorce in the ‘80s.


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