Len’s Top 5 – December 12, 2014

1. Quick Hits

  • Thursday Night Football: Finally an NFL game without a single end zone celebration. Arizona (11-3) beat St. Louis (6-8) 12-6. All field goals. Not a single TD or TD dance.
  • The Boston Red Sox traded outfielder Yoenis Cespedes to Detroit for pitcher Rick Porcello.
  • A judge will not interfere with the result of an Oklahoma High School football result, even though there was an egregious official’s mistake which decided the game.

2. Protest

Here’s why I love my Top 5 subscribers. With all the chatter about athletes and “political” t-shirts and gestures, Wayne T. came up with the line of the week to lighten the load. “How ’bout some “I Can’t Play” t-shirts for the 76ers and Knicks?”

3. A Tradition Unlike Any Other

We probably wouldn’t have heard of Taylor University in Upland Indiana if not for their little “Silent Night Tradition.” Before finals, the fans sit on their hands at their team’s basketball game and when they score their 10th point, they go nuts. This was the scene against Kentucky Christian.
Love the giant pencil! By the way, the team is 18-0 in “Silent Night” games.

4. Friday eMailbag

Regarding athletes with social protests at sports events, J.S. writes, “Of course people don’t want to see protest imagery during a sports event. It confronts them with something uncomfortable. That’s why it’s a protest. If you forced it to the sidelines, it wouldn’t be effective. Good for the players.”

S.W. counters, “I pay lots of money to see sports, hear music/singing, and laugh at comedy. If I wanted to hear people’s a#*hole opinions, I’d visit my family more often during the holidays.”

With the U.S. Postal Service releasing two Wilt Chamberlain stamps, H.K. writes, “Len, it’s nice to know that Wilt will be posting up forever.”

When LeBron James committed a faux pas by putting his arm around Princess Kate, B.W. wrote, “Hey Len, if it was a foul, do you think Kate would have flopped to get the call?”

5. Spanning the World

This week’s Spanning the World highlight comes from a golf tournament in South Africa. Golfers know all about hazards. Here’s a new one. Normally the only golf hazards that move are in miniature golf.

Spanning the World airs on NBC’s Today Show. Next up: Spanning the Year, Friday December 26th.

Happy Birthday: Gymnast Cathy Rigby. 62.
Bonus Birthday: Frank Sinatra would have been 99 today.

Today in Sports: The Texas Rangers signed Alex Rodriguez to a record breaking contract, 10-years $252-million. 2000.
Bonus Event: Same day, same year. The Supreme Court ruled that Florida’s vote was legal, George Bush wins the Presidency. 2000.

Check out my newest project, The Best of Sports, at About.com

Need a gift for that young sports fan in your life? Check out my books. And if you’d like a personally autographed copy contact the Dolphin Bookshop at 516-767-2650.

The Top 5 is going on vacation. Have a great safe holiday season!

Len’s Top 5 – December 11, 2014

1. Quick Hits

  • The new L.A. Dodgers. They made some whirlwind deals yesterday with outfielder Matt Kemp reportedly going to San Diego. They acquired Angels second baseman Howie Kendrick, Yankees pitcher Brandon McCarthy and reportedly Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins.
  • Joe Torre hopes to speed up replay in baseball which, on average, took 1 minute and 46 seconds for each decision.
  • The NFL’s new personal conduct policy includes a special counsel to oversee discipline and Roger Goodell to hear appeals. The players of course don’t like it.
  • Heisman finalist, Wisconsin junior running back Melvin Gordon, will forgo his senior year and enter the NFL draft.
  • The great Dick Enberg is this year’s Ford Frick award winner at the Baseball Hall of Fame.
  • Nebraska lost in basketball on a last second shot to a school named Incarnate Word. Honest.

2. I Can’t Breathe

What is the end game? The NBA is walking a tightrope and allowing players to wear “I Can’t Breathe” t-shirts in protest of the lack of an indictment in the Eric Garner choke-hold case. Many have saluted the players for taking a stand, a la John Carlos and Tommie Smith at the 1968 Olympics. Others contend that they don’t go to a sports event to see political protests. Perhaps the answer is for the sports community to espouse any issue they want, but off the court.

3. Cubs Win!

Of course the Cubs will win the World Series next season after their signings the other day. It was correctly predicted in Back to the Future II. The movie was released in 1989. How great was that prediction? Well, the Cubs won’t beat Miami in the World Series since they both play in the National League. But when the film was made there was no Miami team. In fact it was 4 more years before the Florida Marlins came into existence. They of course are now the Miami Marlins.

4. Court Time

Yesterday I wrote about that Oklahoma high school football playoff game that wound up in court putting the playoffs on hold. A decision is expected today. Your responses overwhelmingly condemned it.

*D. G. The other team (the one that wrongly won) should forfeit the victory.

*R.F. I think the court should fine the idiots who brought the case and sanction the lawyer. The players on the “losing” team are being deprived of the opportunity to learn a valuable lesson. Namely, life isn’t fair.

*P.B. Can’t believe that a court is actually hearing this and not declaring it frivolous. Assaults go on all the time on playing fields. Who’s getting arrested? There is no law enforcement at hockey games. When was the last time you saw a cop slide onto the ice to arrest those fighting?

*J.G. I thought that if there ever was a situation for a travesty-of-justice type call to be overturned after the fact, it would be Jim Joyce’s infamous “safe” call in Armando Galarraga’s perfect game.
These high school kids’ parents and coaches should take a lesson from Mr. Galarraga and show some class and dignity.

*P.R. Don’t they teach in Sports 101 that winning is NOT everything!

5. Top 10

CBS has announced that David Letterman’s last Late Show will be May 20th. I will sorely miss his Top 10s particularly those that were sports related. Here’s a sampling.

*Top Ten Hockey Player Pick-up Lines

*Dale Earnhardt Sr. Top 10 Reasons it took me 20 years to win Daytona 500

*Evan Lysacek. Top 10 Thoughts That Went Through My mind During My Gold Medal Routine
Happy trails, David!

Happy Birthday: Indiana Pacers center Roy Hibbert. 28.
Bonus Birthday: Actress Teri Garr. 67.

Today in Sports: The Chicago Bears release their “smash-hit” video, Super Bowl Shuffle. 1985.
Bonus Event: Thanks doc, I needed that. They used nitrous oxide for the first time in dentistry. 1844.

Check out my newest project, The Best of Sports, at About.com

Need a gift for that young sports fan in your life? Check out my books. And if you’d like a personally autographed copy contact the Dolphin Bookshop at 516-767-2650.

Len’s Top 5 – December 10, 2014

1. Quick Hits

  • The Chicago Cubs land the big prize, free agent pitcher Jon Lester. 6 years, $155-million.
  • Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton was involved in a two vehicle accident. He suffered two back fractures.
  • A South African judge rules that prosecutors can appeal Oscar Pistorius’ murder acquittal. Pistorius is serving 5 years for culpable homicide in the shooting death of his girlfriend.
  • Michigan’s basketball team, after being stunned by NJ Institute of Technology, gets upset for the second straight game, this time by Eastern Michigan 45-42.

2. Stiff Upper Lip

When LeBron James posed with the royals the other night in Brooklyn he pulled a boo-boo. He put his arm around Kate. That’s a no-no when it comes to royal etiquette. No touching is the rule. The Daily Mail featured the headline “The moment that sweaty basketball star LeBron James breached protocol by putting his arm around Kate’s shoulder.” The Mirror said basically the same with the additional words “Kate Middleton doesn’t care!” In other words, no harm, no foul.

3. Court Time

This is right up the alley of all you legal eagles out there. The New York Times featured this story that has wound up in court. Until the decision is rendered the playoffs are now on hold. At issue: the refs blew the call and everyone knows it. A judge is expected to rule today. But should a court decide the issue? Does this open up the possibility of very controversial sports decision wending its way through the court system? I don’t like it. What do you think?

4. Anonymous

How about a new rule in sports. If you’ve got something to say, say it on the record. TMZ quotes a Washington football “star” who claims the locker room has lost faith in quarterback Robert Griffin III. “No one is happy … no one gets the hype around him anymore.” A couple of questions. There are stars on the 3-10 Washington football team? And maybe the media should stop quoting “anonymous” sources? Man up everyone.

5. Have a Seat

What ever happened to reporter involvement? At a tennis exhibition the other day in London, Elton John was one of the coaches and he had a slight problem with his courtside chair. You gotta love the sportscaster. She sort of calls the play-by-play with sounds like “ooh” and “ah.” But she makes no effort to help Sir Elton back into his seat. Then again, what sportscaster wants to muss up a red dress?

Happy Birthday: Two-time NBA champ with the Detroit Pistons, Mark Aguirre. 55.
Bonus Birthday: Celebrity chef Bobby Flay. 50.

Today in Sports: 75 years ago today the NFL season was over! Green Bay shutout the New York Giants 27-0 in the NFL Championship Game. 1939.
Bonus Event: Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is published. 1884.

Check out my newest project, The Best of Sports, at About.com

Need a gift for that young sports fan in your life? Check out my books. And if you’d like a personally autographed copy contact the Dolphin Bookshop at 516-767-2650.

Len’s Top 5 – December 9, 2014

1. Quick Hits

  • Yankees closer David Robertson jumps to the Chicago White Sox, 4 years $46-million. The White Sox also land Oakland starter Jeff Samardzija.
  • San Francisco Giants pitcher Madison Bumgarner is the Sports Illustrated 2014 Sportsman of the Year.
  • Monday Night Football: Green Bay (10-3) held off Atlanta (5-8) 43-37.
  • The Heisman Trophy (Saturday night) finalists are Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota, Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon and Alabama wide receiver Amari Cooper.
  • Shot of the night: The Clippers Blake Griffin beats Phoenix in overtime with a bouncing 3-pointer. Griffin had 45 points.

2. Fameless

It was oh so close for two terrific ballplayers. Dick Allen and Tony Oliva fell one vote shy of making Cooperstown. They each received 11 out of 16 while 12 was the threshold on the veteran’s committee. Jim Kaat got 10 votes. The long wait continues for the Brooklyn faithful who believe that Gil Hodges deserves to make it. Gil didn’t come close. The question you have to ask yourself, is player A. or B. an all-time great? And don’t compare him with people who are in the Hall. Many of them don’t deserve it either.

3. Sportsman of the Year

Maybe it fills up a few minutes on talk radio, but the Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year really isn’t worth getting riled up about. Madison Bumgarner is a fine choice. Then again, some of the past fine “sportsmen” have included Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire and Lance Armstrong. How could they miss A-Rod?

4. Man’s Man

So you want to be a pro athlete? Any interest in hockey? Here are the requirements. You have part of your ear lopped off by a high stick during the first period of a game. You have it sewn back on. And then you score the game winning goal in overtime. That all happened to Kevin Klein of the Rangers last night against Pittsburgh. Maybe you should just go to law school.

5. Fan Fare

Very cool that Kate and William went to watch the real “King” LeBron James last night in Brooklyn. But it was also a tad disappointing. Sure they met Beyonce and Jay Z, but they couldn’t ask William to take a $10-thousand halfcourt shot? They couldn’t shoot a free t-shirt in their direction? Don’t feel bad royal guys, Sir Paul McCartney also went home disappointed in the t-shirt department last year. At the very least they should have put the kids on kiss-cam.

Happy Birthday: Hall of Fame Chicago Bears linebacker Dick Butkus. 72.
Bonus Birthday: Actor Kirk Douglas. 98.

Today in Sports: 30 years ago today, Eric Dickerson of the Rams became the all-time single season rushing leader in the NFL. He totaled 2105 yards that year, his record still stands. 1984.
Bonus Event: Doors lead singer Jim Morrison is arrested on stage in New Haven and charged with inciting a riot, indecency and public obscenity. The charges were later dropped. 1967.

Wilt the Stilt and his new postage stamps at About.com In many ways I feel Wilt was underrated.

Need a gift for that young sports fan in your life? Check out my books. And if you’d like a personally autographed copy contact the Dolphin Bookshop at 516-767-2650.

Len’s Top 5 – December 8, 2014

1. Quick Hits

  • The first ever major college football playoff will feature #1 Alabama vs. #4 Ohio State, and #2 Oregon vs. #3 Florida State.
  • Sunday Night Football: New England (10-3) won at San Diego (8-5) 23-14.
  • Oakland is now 2-11 after winning the Battle of the Bay against San Francisco 24-13.
  • Tiger Woods tied for last place in his return to golf at his Hero World Challenge. He was 26 shots behind the winner Jordan Spieth.
  • Baseball and softball could return for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
  • College basketball score of the weekend: 293rd ranked NJ Institute of Technology wins at #17 Michigan (24 1/2 point favorite) 72-70.

2. Playoffs

It’s the nature of “selection.” It’s subjective and somebody is always going to be pissed off. In this case it’s the state of Texas where Baylor and TCU were left on the outside looking in.
But at least they’re having a playoff. And just hearing that word gives us yet another opportunity to listen to former Indianapolis Colts coach Jim Mora in 2001 after a 40-21 loss to San Francisco. Classic!

3. Veteran’s Day

It’s the annual veterans vote for the Baseball Hall of Fame today in San Diego. Ten players are on the “Golden Era” ballot; Dick Allen, Ken Boyer, Gil Hodges, Bob Howsam, Jim Kaat, Minnie Minoso, Tony Oliva, Billy Pierce, Luis Tiant and Maury Wills. Kaat came the closest last time around with 10 votes. You need 12 of the 16 on the committee. Try my method to select a Hall of Famer. Look at the name and ask yourself if he belongs? If it takes more than 3 seconds he doesn’t. Having said that there are some awfully good players on the list.

4. The Replacement(s)

I feel bad for Didi Gregorious. He’ll be the new Yankees shortstop. He may be replacing Derek Jeter, but nobody can replace Derek Jeter. The kid’s a good fielder, which he showed in Arizona. But he’s not a great hitter. But any comparison is patently unfair. Let the kid breathe. And the Yanks are doing him a favor by saying that he’s platooning with Brendan Ryan for now. And by the way, “nobody could replace Don Mattingly” they said. Tino Martinez did just fine.

5. Stamp of Approval

Two Wilt Chamberlain postage stamps were dedicated the other night in Philadelphia. I had two immediate thoughts. What took them so long? And how could Wilt fit on a stamp. Well apparently he couldn’t’. The stamps are larger than normal. And that’s fitting. Wilt was larger than life, and despite a reputation to the contrary, he was a delightful guy. He died far too young at the age of 63. A giant of a man in so many ways. And now memorialized on two forever stamps. Perfect.

Happy Birthday: San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers. 33.
Bonus Birthday: Actress Teri Hatcher. 50.

Today in Sports: The Yankees trade Roger Maris to St. Louis for third baseman Charley Smith. 1966.
Also on this date: John Lennon was shot to death in New York City. 1980.

The “best” of last week. My take at About.com

Need a gift for that young sports fan in your life? Check out my books. And if you’d like a personally autographed copy contact the Dolphin Bookshop at 516-767-2650.