- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 20, 2009

The AccuWeather forecast for Sunday afternoon’s Redskins-Rams game at the Mailbox: Mostly sunny, high of 76, zero percent chance of meatballs.

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Wish Michael Crabtree had talked to Barry Sanders before playing hard to get with the 49ers - just to learn How It Should Be Done. Twenty years ago, Sanders staged what, for my money, is the greatest holdout by a rookie in NFL history. Why do I consider it such? Because after missing all of training camp, Barry stepped into the Lions’ huddle and immediately began playing like a top draft pick, which almost never happens.

The details:

In Week 1, just three days after signing, he rushed for 71 yards and a touchdown on nine carries.

In Week 2, he gained 153 yards from scrimmage (57 rushing, including a TD, and 96 receiving).

In Week 3, he had the first of many 100-yard rushing games (126 yards in 18 attempts) and scored another TD.

He wound up finishing second in the NFL with 1,470 yards rushing, 10 behind Christian Okoye.

Crabtree, meanwhile, sits and waits. (And if he ever does agree to terms, it figures to be months, if not longer, before he contributes at the level Sanders did from Day One.)

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With 30 saves and a 7.21 ERA entering Saturday, the Phillies’ Brad Lidge has gotta be a shoo-in for the Fire Marshal Bill Award.

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Lidge has been so combustible this season that the Phillie Phanatic has been treated twice for singed fur.

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Talk about doing a 180. A year ago, Brad was the best reliever in baseball. This year, he’s the asbestos reliever in baseball.

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Which brings us to Carlos Pena - another hard-luck story. I mean, now that his season has been ended by a CC Sabathia fastball, Pena can’t take a run at Dave Kingman’s mark for lowest batting average by a home run champ.

Kingman hit .204 when he led the National League with 37 homers in 1982. Carlos, who’s still atop the American League with 39 dingers, was hitting .227 when he went on the DL.

Some records, I guess, aren’t meant to be broken.

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I’m not big on conspiracy theories, but two years in a row now a guy named Carlos has been leading the AL in homers in the first week of September, only to suffer a season-ending injury.

Carlos Quentin’s RBI total when he got hurt last year: 100.

Pena’s RBI total when he got hurt: 100.

And here’s the eeriest part: Quentin was once traded for a minor leaguer named Chris Carter.

Chris Carter is also the name of the guy who created “The X-Files.”

Let me put it this way:

The truth is out there.

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Turning to basketball, the Cavaliers’ Delonte West got stopped for speeding on his motorcycle in P.G. County last week and was found to be carrying two handguns on his person and a shotgun in a guitar case strapped to his back - all loaded.

Sounds like he’s been playing the Charles Bronson edition of Guitar Hero.

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Neal from Gaithersburg e-mails: “It kind of adds new meaning to the term ‘shooting guard.’ ”

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According to police, one gun was found in West’s waistband, another strapped to his leg. In other words, it was mathematically possible - as Plaxico Burress will tell you - for him to accidentally shoot himself in both thighs.

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Just call him Delonte “Wild” West.

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Did you see Ivo Karlovic had a record 78 aces in his marathon Davis Cup loss to Radek Stepanek? That means Karlovic had the equivalent of 19 1/2 service games - more than three sets’ worth - in which Nothing Happened… nothing, that is, except for the ball whizzing by his opponent.

So while the match might have lasted 5 hours, 59 minutes, fans had plenty of opportunities to slip out to the refreshment stand - or to a restaurant for a five-course meal, for that matter.

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Karlovic hitting 78 aces and losing the match is like Steve Carlton striking out 19 Mets in 1969, a major league record at the time, and getting beat 4-3.

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Speaking of tennis, they sure handed out the fines at the U.S. Open. Serena Williams got docked $10,000 for unsportsmanlike conduct, Roger Federer had to cough up $1,500 for uttering an audible obscenity to the chair umpire and Rafael Nadal, I hear, got hit for $500 for being so darn kissable.

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Interesting piece by John Paul Newport of the Wall Street Journal on one of the biggest differences between golf in Britain and golf in the U.S. At even the ritziest clubs in the Isles, Newport says, “members happily use [pull carts or push carts]… to trundle their bags down the fairways, thus playing the game as it was originally intended, on foot.”

But on this side of the pond, “walking carts historically have been relegated mostly to lower-end public and municipal courses. The vast majority of upscale clubs, resorts and daily-fee courses ban them entirely, thus denying many who might enjoy walking the course from time to time the opportunity to do so. On many of these courses, only motorized carts are allowed. On others, only golfers who are fit enough to carry their own bags - a full set of clubs with bag weighs 20 pounds or more - can walk, and even then usually only during stipulated hours.”

Or to put it another way, at most courses in America, the only exercise they want you to get is reaching for your wallet.

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In other links news, a man believed to have dumped 3,000 golf balls over the past year in California’s Joshua Tree National Park has finally been caught - and is being brought up on charges.

I’ve got the perfect defense for him: “Actually, your honor, only a handful of the balls are mine. The rest are John Daly’s - from all the times he missed the fairway at Riviera.”

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The judge hearing the case will probably sentence him to six months at hard labor - raking traps.

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And finally…

GoDaddy.com will be the primary sponsor of Mark Martin’s car next year in the Sprint Cup.

Considering Martin’s advanced age, maybe the logo on Martin’s No. 5 Chevrolet should read: GoGrandDaddy. com.

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