- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 19, 2006

You know it’s a down year for Pac-10 basketball when Stanford’s tree mascot gets fired for being drunk on the job.

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I kid you not. Erin Lashnits, a fifth-year biology student, blew 0.15 on the breathalyzer during a recent game at California. What do you suppose trees drink, anyway — Turning Leaf?

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The young woman reportedly hopes to become an astronaut, but she may have to settle for being a space cadet.

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And she can forget about winning the Joyce Kilmer Award. (Though she still might have a shot at the Billy Kilmer Award.)

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A headline that begged to be written: Potted Plant.

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A spokesman for the Stanford band, which oversees the tree, said, “She wasn’t doing anything offensive. She was just jumping and dancing. The tree’s movement is usually consistent with that of someone who’s had something to drink.”

Hey, give the guy credit. At least he didn’t try to blame it on Dutch Elm Disease.

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Oversees the tree. I’d love to know what that entails. Periodic pruning? Stringing it with lights during the holiday season? Evicting the occasional bird’s nest?

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The spokesman, one Sam Urmy, said the firing was regrettable but necessary, adding, “We don’t want to risk our core mission of rocking out and bringing funk to the funkless.”

Oh great, now the band is going be in trouble with the PGA Tour. Isn’t that the tour’s motto: Bringing Funk to the Funkless?

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Tree Rollins could not be reached for comment.

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Speaking of college hoops, there are going to be some big-time openings during the offseason, what with Indiana and Missouri looking to hire somebody. It’ll be interesting to see whether George Washington’s Karl Hobbs is on either school’s short list.

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Why do I get the feeling, by the way, that GW will wind up in UConn’s corner of the tournament bracket, so TV can have a matchup between Hobbs and mentor Jim Calhoun?

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Sports Illustrated’s Seth Davis says the duel between Adam Morrison (28.8 points a game) and J.J. Redick (28.9) “is the best national scoring race ever.” Perhaps, but the one in ‘57-58 was pretty good, too. Finishing 1-2-3 that season were Oscar Robertson (35.1), Elgin Baylor (32.5) and Wilt Chamberlain (30.1).

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News item: Trail Blazers fine Sebastian Telfair an undisclosed amount after a loaded gun is found on the team’s private jet.

Comment: This is what happens when you have a shoot-first point guard.

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Here’s the real reason Sammy Sosa turned down the Nationals’ offer: He didn’t want to have to look Frank Robinson in the face all year long. Frank (586) was the last player Sammy (588) passed in his suspicious ascent up the career homer list.

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Amplitude by any other name would be height.

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Sure, U.S. figure skater Johnny Weir missed the bus, but … Steelers fans are really going to miss the Bus.

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Just wondering: Has every athlete in Turin had his or her teeth fixed for the Big Event?

I’m tellin’ ya, when these medal winners smile, they look like baby grand pianos.

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On the subject of medals, what’s with the hole in the middle, anyway? Are they going to run pictures of the Olympic champions on Cheerios boxes this time instead of Wheaties?

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Imagine an NFL owner, after the season was over, taking an ocean liner to Europe to compete in the Winter Olympics. Sound like something Dan Snyder would do? Or Paul Allen?

They just don’t make owners like the used to. In 1948, Alexis Thompson, the Eagles’ dashing 36-year-old boss, went to St. Moritz, Switzerland, as a member of our skeleton team. Alas, he was “forced out of the … event through injuries sustained in a practice run,” the New York Times said.

And get this: Thompson also competed in the 1936 Summer Olympics. Yup, in addition to his exploits as a sledder, he was a fearsome field hockey player. All in all, quite the Yale man.

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Thompson had plenty of spills along with his thrills — on both one-man sleds and bobsleds. “His worst smash-up came at [Lake] Placid in 1940 [the year he bought the Eagles],” the Times’ Arthur Daley once wrote. “A tricky little curve caught him by surprise, and Lex was pitched down the mountainside until he crashed sickeningly into a tree. For three days he was paralyzed from the waist up. But soon he was driving again, none the worse for wear.”

In 1947, the year Philadelphia won its first NFL title, Thompson had another crackup during the Olympic trials. He and the rest of his four-man bobsled crew “were taken to Saranac Lake hospital after sustaining injuries when their sled failed to negotiate ‘Zig-Zag,’ the one-mile bob run’s most treacherous turn,” the Associated Press reported. “The hospital reported [no one] was hurt seriously.”

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One more Thompson tidbit: According to Daley, Lex “once was discovered looking appraisingly at the 270 pounds which belong to [Giants coach] Stout Steve Owen and was overheard wistfully remarking: ‘What a wonderful bobsledder he’d make.’ It was never learned whether Lex was overwhelmed at the thought of Owen as ballast or whether his motives were more sinister, complete removal of his archrival from the National Football League. Be that as it may, however, it was disconcerting to find out that one of his crewmen in the [1947] accident … was a certain Stubby Martin, who weighs 269 pounds, or almost the Owen displacement.”

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Then there’s Jack Kent Cooke, the late Redskins owner. He might not have been a Winter Olympian, but the title of his unauthorized biography was “The Last Mogul.”

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In other football news, offensive lineman Fred Weary has re-upped with the Houston Texans. You’ve heard of tried-and-true players? Well, Weary is tired-and-true.

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I wouldn’t be surprised if he showed up for the signing in fatigues.

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And finally …

Too bad the sleeper play is illegal. You couldn’t find a better guy to run it than Weary.

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