- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 29, 2007

Oh, goody. Now the Redskins have two safeties fast enough to, uh, tackle a running back 40 yards downfield. Who needs a defensive lineman when you’ve got that?

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Here’s the best part, though: The contract LaRon Landry signs as the sixth pick figures to far exceed the contract Sean Taylor signed as the fifth pick three years ago. That should make Taylor, who has always been dissatisfied with his deal, doubly happy.

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I love the instant-millionaire aspect of the NFL draft. In the blink of a camera shutter yesterday, Gaines Adams became Capital Gaines Adams.

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Can’t say I felt sorry for free-falling Brady Quinn, but I did find myself wishing the league would put a ping-pong table in the Green Room.

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Just wondering: If a team cuts a player because it thinks he’s old and used up — as the Vikings did recently to Brad Johnson — can he really be considered a “Key Loss”?

(Yes, that question is directed at you, ESPN.)

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Elsewhere in football, more than 92,000 fans turned out for Alabama’s spring game, nearly twice the previous record. But then, the school promoted the heck out of the event. There were even signs outside Bryant-Denny Stadium that said:

“Now appearing: Nick Saban. Limited engagement only!”

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Boy, this Bloody Sock flap started by Orioles TV voice Gary Thorne has gotten crazy, hasn’t it? Now Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling, his integrity impugned, is daring people to test the sock — provided they contribute $1 million to charity if the substance in dispute is found to be Actual Hemoglobin.

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What’s next, O.J. Simpson offering to try the sock on?

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Almost as ridiculous was Thorne’s claim that he never dreamed his comments would turn into a big story. Let’s see, he accuses one of the most well known players in the game of being a Self-Aggrandizing Fraud, and he doesn’t expect the media to jump on that?

What Gary said was the equivalent of the radio announcer in “The Natural” saying, “I was talking to Whammer Wambold in the Knights locker room the other day, and you know what he told me? Wonderboy is corked.”

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That said, I see a Sherwin-Williams commercial in Schilling’s future — probably promoting their newest color: blood red.

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And to think Thorne — the “journalist” with dubious news sense — writes a weekly column for the Bangor Daily News. It’s enough to make you want to Bangor your head against a wall.

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Once again, we have an ESPN announcer Becoming the Story (though Thorne’s remarks were originally made on MASN, the O’s flagship). Not long ago, you may recall, Dick Vitale had an Oops Moment when he didn’t realize he was on the radio, and last week Thorne had an Oops Moment when he didn’t realize, apparently, he was on television.

You know, instead of paying billions to the NFL et al. for all this game programming, maybe ESPN should just give its broadcasters their own reality shows.

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Turning to the NBA, did you see somebody gave Amare Stoudemire a vote for Most Improved Player? The guy obviously thought he was filling out his Comeback Player of the Year ballot.

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Of course, Stoudemire did score 1,645 more points and grab 770 more rebounds than he did last season — when he played in only three games because of a knee injury.

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On the other hand, Amare had 232 times as many turnovers this year (232 vs. 1). Where’s the improvement in that?

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The Newells are at it again. In the ‘60s, Pete Newell, the legendary California coach, staged an experimental basketball game with rims 11 feet high, and now his son Tom, the former Sonics assistant, has one planned with 11-foot rims.

Eleven-foot rims — that should really help Shaq’s free throw shooting.

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A number of experimental games have been played over years to study all kinds of proposed rules changes — usually changes aimed at (a.) lessening the impact of big men; or (b.) speeding things up. Some of the more interesting ones:

1945 — Columbia and Fordham stage an exhibition featuring three-point baskets (for shots made beyond a 21-foot line) and two-point free throws (“if the player fouled exercised the option of shooting from the same 21-foot line,” the AP reports). Columbia wins, 73-58 — the same margin it would have won by under the existing rules (59-44).

1952 — Los Angeles State coach Sax Elliott, tired of last-quarter fouling and stalling in the pre-shot-clock era, organizes a game in which victory went to the first team to reach 64 points. Elliott’s club defeats an aggregation of “College All-Stars,” 64-62. “The game,” according to the AP, “lasted 44 minutes, 16 seconds.”

1953 — The next year, after Rio Grande’s Bevo Francis scores 116 points against Ashland Junior College, Elliott puts on two more trial games. Why? He can’t believe anybody could rack up that many points in 40 minutes.

In the first game, Elliott stations his center, John Barber, under the offensive basket the entire time and tells the opposition, the Los Angeles City College JV, not to defend him. Barber pumps in 188 points.

In the second game, Elliott has the jayvees play token defense against Barber. They “hold” him to 103 — even though he takes all of his team’s shots in the first three quarters. Elliott comes away convinced that 116 points in a game is at least possible.

1954 — Two NBA teams, the Minneapolis Lakers and Milwaukee Hawks, play an experimental game with 12-foot-high hoops. In addition, “free throw shooting was delayed until the end of the period,” the International News Service reports. The Lakers prevail, 65-63.

1959 — Kansas State coach Tex Winter has his varsity reserves play a game in which there is “no time clock, two [of the three] referees were stationed in sound-proof booths above high above the floor, halftime intermission was called when either team hit 25 points and each team was … allowed only four timeouts,” according to the Humboldt (Calif.) Standard. The score was 25-13 at the half, 60-38 at the finish. Total elapsed time of the contest: 63 minutes.

(Sometime in the 1960s — Future Southern Cal coach Stan Morrison, who played under Pete Newell at Cal, writes a Master’s thesis titled “The Advantages and Disadvantages in Raising the Height of the Goal in Basketball from 10 Feet to 12 Feet.” In 1969, Morrison tells the Hayward Daily Review: “There has been much legislation against the big man already — the elimination of the center jump after every goal, the widening of the lane, the three-second rule, the goal-tending rules and lately the anti-dunk rule. But the fact remains that the players have just grown up to the basket.”)

1982 — The Big Ten mulls experimenting with 11-foot baskets in conference games but decides against it “because their teams would be at a disadvantage in postseason tournaments played at the traditional height,” the AP says.

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And finally …

I don’t suppose Michael Vick will be making any appearances at next year’s Westminster Kennel Club show.

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