- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 16, 2005

Did you hear about the Astros fan who caught two home run balls in the final game of the NLDS? I haven’t crunched the numbers yet, but I’m pretty sure he has a better range factor than Lance Berkman.

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Two days earlier, Nomar Garciaparra rescued two women who had fallen into Boston Harbor. He was probably trying to show, as he heads into free agency at 32, that he can still make the diving stop.

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News item: Arkansas mother gives birth to 16th child.

Comment: Unfortunately, she can have only 15 on the active roster at any one time.

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Something tells me the Vikings aren’t going to be invited on a Carnival cruise anytime soon.

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Zygi Wilf, the Vikes’ embarrassed owner, plans to institute a code of conduct for the team that demands “high standards” and “high morals.” The code, I’m told, also will prohibit the players from assembling in any boat larger than a dinghy.

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Just to put your mind at ease: Police have found no evidence of any hanky-panky involving “the Original Whizzinator.”

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What was the name of that charter boat the Vikings used again? The Titanic?

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Wilf already has announced a new dress code for road games that outlaws jeans and T-shirts (and will eventually require coats and ties). To get semi-serious for a moment, maybe 49ers coach Mike Nolan didn’t have such a bad idea, after all. Maybe the NFL should let its coaches wear suits on the sideline (as they did in the old days) — to set a tone if nothing else. The league told Nolan he couldn’t do it because it violated clothing contracts. What’s to prevent the league from striking a deal with, say, Brooks Brothers to outfit coaches?

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The Gatorade people wouldn’t like it, though. No more Gatorade baths. No more free publicity.

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So I’m reading about the possibility the New Jersey Turnpike might be sold, and I’m thinking: There’s no way I could buy the whole thing, but I’d certainly like to bid on the Vince Lombardi Service Area.

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Tonight on “60 Minutes,” Bill Romanowski talks about taking steroids and human growth hormone during his NFL days and, in one “awful” episode, intentionally breaking the finger of an opponent in an attempt to “rip the ball out of his hands.”

Romo also reveals, sources say, that a Broadway musical about his career is being developed. Working title: “Maim.”

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I was kinda hoping the settlement between Mike Price and Sports Illustrated would include a free lifetime subscription.

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If you’re a college football fan, you owe it to yourself to pick up a copy of the “ESPN College Football Encyclopedia” (edited by Michael MacCambridge). Be careful, though. You might get so wrapped up in its 1,629 pages that you forget you have a job.

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This week’s trivia question (culled from the aforementioned tome): In 1960, when he won the Heisman Trophy, Navy’s Joe Bellino finished sixth in the nation in rushing with 834 yards. What well-known Washington sports figure finished seventh? (Answer below.)

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Something else I learned from the book: In 1963, no fewer than three local quarterbacks were ranked in the top 10 in the country — Maryland’s Dick Shiner (sixth), Navy’s Roger Staubach (seventh) and … GW’s Merv Holland (tied for ninth). (Note: Back then, QBs were ranked purely on the basis of completions per game.)

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Also, while I was vaguely aware that former Redskins assistant Jim Hanifan had once led the nation in receiving (with 44 catches for California in ‘54), I had no idea that erstwhile Federals coach Ray Jauch was once first in rushing average (7.0 yards a carry for Iowa in ‘58).

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Now I know why Peter Bondra didn’t come back to the Capitals. He wanted to be able to play against them.

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The Caps gave up 15 goals in consecutive games recently against Bondra’s Atlanta Thrashers (with Bonzai scoring three of them). Before you get too down on the team, though, consider this: In their inaugural season of 1974-75, the Caps gave up more than 15 goals in consecutive games 11 times Their worst two-game stretch: 19 goals allowed (12 vs. Pittsburgh followed by seven vs. Philly).

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Turning to college hoops, federal immigration officials say N.C. State’s Gavin Grant is in the country illegally and may be deported to Jamaica. His lawyers, of course, are trying to plea-bargain it down to a traveling violation.

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Jamaica … isn’t that where St. John’s is located? I’ll bet the Red Storm would be thrilled to have him.

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Oh, that Jamaica.

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Mike Krzyzewski says he has been in “serious discussions” about becoming the U.S. national team coach. In fact, at this point, there’s only one potential hang-up: Because of that commercial he did for American Express, he might not be able to get a visa.

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Answer to trivia question: Billy Kilmer, then a hard-charging UCLA tailback, finished just behind Joe Bellino in rushing in 1960 with 803 yards.

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Apolo Anton Ohno, America’s top short track speed skater, got DQ’d twice in a recent competition — for shoving in one race and for impeding in another. Not to worry, though. He’s still in the running for the Nextel Cup.

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In auto racing, they call it “trading paint” when cars sideswipe each other. What do they call it in short track when skaters bump, “swapping Spandex”?

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My new Favorite Sporting Event is the Underpants Run. It’s a one-miler held a few days before the Ironman Triathlon in Hawaii that features about 100 skivvies-clad participants. And why are they dressed — or undressed — this way?

“It was a reaction to the abhorrent and unbelievable practice of [Ironman competitors] wearing Speedos around town — in the post office, the grocery store, even restaurants,” says Paul Huddle, the former professional triathlete who founded the run. “It’s just a clash of the cultures, between the more conservative Americans and the whole European and Mediterranean resort vacation thing.”

For the life of me, I don’t understand why the Underpants Run doesn’t get more media coverage. Most sports sections, for some reason, put it in “Briefs.”

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And finally …

Here’s what I’d like to see: The Underpants Run combined with the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona. Talk about quality sports programming.

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Hook ‘em, horns.

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