Len’s Top 5 – November 16, 2012

Len’s Top 5 – November 16, 2012

1. Quick Hits

* The baseball MVP’s are Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera in the American League and Giants catcher Buster Posey in the National.

* Time to hold a benefit. Derek Jeter finished 7th in the MVP voting. He needed to finish 6th to get a $2-million bonus in 2014.

* Commissioner Bud Selig says he’ll review the 12 player trade between Miami and Toronto.

* Thursday night football: Buffalo beat Miami 19-14 leaving the Jets in sole possession of last place in the AFC East.

* San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh went to the hospital for a procedure for an irregular heartbeat.

* The Knicks go to 6-0 after rallying to beat the Spurs in San Antonio.

* NHL talks are going nowhere. The league suggests a two week break in negotiations and accuses the players of having “zero interest” in making a deal.



2. M.V.P.

Miguel Cabrera of the Tigers won the Triple Crown this year therefore he’s the MVP. End of story. I know some of you, especially on the left coast, are going to bombard me with Mike Trout stats like base running and defense. Don’t bother. I’m old school, and winning the Triple Crown is truly special. In fact it’s MVP-worthy. If you email me otherwise my delete button is rarin’ to go.






3. G-O-O-O-A-L

Sweden’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored on a wild bicycle kick against England the other day, and pundits are trying to figure out where it ranks in the pantheon of great goals. Check out the replayat about the 1:00 mark.  Here’s the irony, it might be one of the greatest goals ever, but it won’t be one of the top 10 goals of 2012. Just hours before the goal, FIFA had already announced the 10 candidates for goal of the year.





4. Friday eMailbag

In regards to the Feds dropping their child sexual abuse case against Bernie Fine, R.W. writes, “Jim Boeheim was proven to be right in the way he initially defended his friend and colleague…. The way this guy was treated is just awful. It ruined his life and now he’s a footnote. Terrible.”

But from J.D. on Facebook at “Len Berman’s Top 5,”Don’t forget that two of the credible accusers couldn’t have their cases proceed because the statute of limitations had expired. Granted, there were also false accusers, but let’s not pretend Fine’s been cleared of anything. He’s only been deemed not prosecutable.”

As for the big NASCAR brawl last weekend, D.M. found a silver lining: “It’s the closest thing we’ll see to hockey for a long time apparently!”

And from Top 5 subscriber George Kalinsky, the great sports photographer, after R.A Dickey won the Cy Young Award. “Love Dickey….He gave us joy!” And he included this picture that he took. 





5. Spanning the World

This week’s Spanning the World highlight comes from a 5th division basketball game in Belgium. A player somehow misses 4 wide open easy layups, and that’s a good thing.  He was shooting at the wrong basket!
Spanning the World airs monthly on NBC’s Today Show. Next up: Thursday, November 29th in the 8:30am half hour.





Happy Birthday: The Knicks Amar’e Stoudemire. 30.

Bonus Birthday: Former Mets and Yankees pitcher Dwight Gooden. 48.

Today in Sports:  The first NFL regular season players strike comes to an end. 1982.

Bonus Event: Ensuring that a future Broadway musical would make sense, Oklahoma becomes the 46th state. 1907.

It’s not too early to buy a holiday gift for that young sports fan in you life. If you’d like to purchase a personally autographed copy of my new book The Greatest Moments in Sports: Upsets and Underdogs, please contact the Dolphin Bookshop in Port Washington, New York at (516) 767-2650.

Len’s Top 5 – November 15, 2012

Len’s Top 5 – November 15, 2012

1. Quick Hits

* The Mets R.A. Dickey wins the National League Cy Young Award, David Price of Tampa Bay is the American League winner.

* Angels free agent outfielder Torii Hunter signs with Detroit.

* Jets coach Rex Ryan did the right thing. He called his players cowardly, the ones who ripped Tim Tebow anonymously.



2. Upsets and Underdogs

If I ever write a sequel to my current book The Greatest Moments in Sports: Upsets and Underdogs, R.A. Dickey rates a chapter. Maybe two. There’s no cheering in the press box, but how could you not root for this guy? Nearly 38 and drummed out of baseball on too many occasions to count. He wrote a book about being sexually abused as a child, and maybe the catharsis of finally telling his story freed him to become the pitcher he is, the first knuckleballer to win the Cy Young Award, and a good buy to boot. The Mets need to sign him in a hurry. He’s an inspiration.







3. Moneyball

Don’t you think, “God, don’t they make enough money?” The Yankees apparently love to load up on extras for their players. Alex Rodriguez will famously get millions more if he sets home run records. And that’s on top of his obscene contract. Now it turns out that Derek Jeter can make out too. According to Yankees beat reporter Sweeny Murti, Jeter will be watching the MVP results tonight very carefully. He’s not one of the 5 finalists, but if he should finish 6th he’ll get another $2-million tacked on to his 2014 salary. He’s already had $1.5-million added for winning a Silver Slugger award. And remember, the Yankees have vowed to reduce payroll. Maybe they will. But it’s the perks that’ll kill ’em.





4. Our National Pastime

If you want proof how limited our “National Pastime” is, look no further than the Olympics. Baseball and softball got the boot after Beijing in 2008, but they’re trying to get back in starting in 2020. They’ve formed a unified bid, so in essence they are applying as one sport. They were scheduled to meet this week with IOC officials in Switzerland. Baseball/softball has stiff competition. Only one new sport will get selected next fall, and karate, roller sports, squash, sport climbing, wakeboard and wushu are all knocking on the door. One of the reasons baseball and softball got bounced was the claim that not enough countries participated in their sports. But wushu anyone?






5. More Jimmy Piersall

With Jimmy Piersall turning 83 yesterday, some of you sent me your favorite Piersall memories. Top 5 subscriber Richie S. came up with a story that I hadn’t heard. During a game in 1961 against Cleveland, a couple of fans jumped onto the field and went after Piersall who was in center field. And who came racing to the outfield to Piersall’s defense? None other than Mickey Mantle who was on first base for the Yanks. How about that? The Mick helping a guy in trouble on the other team. My hero!





Happy Birthday: Former Denver Broncos running back Otis Armstrong. 62..

Bonus Birthday: She sang Downtown. Petula Clark. 80.

Today in Sports:  Elgin Baylor of the Lakers drops 71 points on the Knicks. Two years later Wilt Chamberlain dropped 100 on them. 1960.

Bonus Event: Dave Thomas opened the first Wendy’s restaurant in Columbus, Ohio. 1969.

It’s not too early to buy a holiday gift for that young sports fan in you life. If you’d like to purchase a personally autographed copy of my new book The Greatest Moments in Sports: Upsets and Underdogs, please contact the Dolphin Bookshop in Port Washington, New York at (516) 767-2650.

Len’s Top 5 – November 14, 2012

Len’s Top 5 – November 14, 2012

1. Quick Hits

* Fire Sale! The Miami Marlins are shipping Jose Reyes, and pitchers Mark Buerhle and Josh Johnson to Toronto in a 12 player deal. Is the American League East stacked or what?

* Washington’s Davey Johnson and Oakland’s Bob Melvin are voted the managers of the year.

* In college basketball, Duke beat Kentucky 75-68.

* No texting and driving, even in NASCAR. Electronic devices are now forbidden in cars. Texting was going on during stoppages.



2. The Public Be Damned

Now that they’ve stopped counting votes in South Florida, the local residents can turn their attention to being slightly miffed with their local baseball team. Once again they’ve blown up the team. This is what they normally do after they win the World Series. Only this one is worse. The public financed a brand new spiffy stadium in Miami and now their team is basically sold out from under them. Oh well, they’ve still got that pretty aquarium behind home plate.







3. Tebowmania

It seems that Tebowmania has cooled in the Jets locker room. (Hasn’t everything?) The Daily News sampled players who anonymously ripped Tim Tebow. One defensive starter claimed “he’s terrible.” Maybe it’s true, but in such a macho sport it’s time for players to man up. If they’ve got something to say put their name on it, or else just shut up and play.





4. PSL

Nothing is an onerous to sports fans as personal seat licenses. Actually, rich fans probably don’t find them as onerous as the rest of us. Anyway, the Governor of Minnesota, Mark Dayton is hopping mad. The public is helping to fund the new Vikings Stadium and the Governor says he will fight any attempt by the team to stick the fans with personal seat licenses. He says if the public trust is betrayed, he’d rather they don’t build the stadium. Good for him. Now if you’re wondering why the Governor of New Jersey doesn’t stand up for Giants and Jets fans the same way, Met Life Stadium was privately built by the owners.






5. Jimmy Piersall

There are precious few athletes who just the mention of their names brings a smile. One of those is Jimmy Piersall. He was the subject of the movie Fear Strikes Out, the true story of the Red Sox outfielder who battled mental illness. But when I think of Piersall, June 23rd 1963 comes to mind. He hit a homer against the Phillies, the 100th of his career. To mark the milestone he trotted around the bases backwards. No, he didn’t run to third. He ran to first and the rest of the way backwards. Other than the fans, nobody was amused. The Casey Stengel and the Mets cut him two days later. Jimmy continued his playing career with the Angels before retiring in 1967. In the 80’s he teamed with Harry Caray on White Sox broadcasts. Now that’s a broadcast team. Happy 83rd to an original, Jimmy Piersall.





Happy Birthday: Former Red Sox (and four other teams) outfielder Jimmy Piersall. 83.

Bonus Birthday: Prince Charles. 64.

Today in Sports: Miami Dolphins coach Don Shula becomes the winningest coach in NFL history. 1993.

Bonus Event: There goes the neighborhood. Yale goes coed. 1968.

It’s not too early to buy a holiday gift for that young sports fan in you life. If you’d like to purchase a personally autographed copy of my new book The Greatest Moments in Sports: Upsets and Underdogs, please contact the Dolphin Bookshop in Port Washington, New York at (516) 767-2650.

Len’s Top 5 – November 13, 2012

Len’s Top 5 – November 13, 2012

1. Quick Hits

* Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was sent to the hospital with a shoulder injury in last night’s 16-13 overtime win over Kansas City.

* The baseball rookies of the year are Mike Trout of the Angels (it was unanimous) and Bryce Harper of the Nationals.

* Lance Armstrong cuts formal ties with Livestrong his cancer-fighting organization.



2. Are You Sure?

Everyone is an expert right? Just listen to talk radio. It’s not just the hosts, it’s the callers who also have everything all figured out. Two examples. How many people said that when Mark Sanchez plays poorly, Tim Tebow will get the job? Well, can Sanchez play any more poorly than he’s playing? And guess what? Tebow ain’t getting it. Then there are the Lakers. Phil Jackson was said to be “stunned” when he didn’t get the coaching job. He thought it was his to lose. So did the rest of the world. So, the next time we’re about to issue one our “expert opinions” we all might think about hitting that hold button for a moment.







3. Dance Marathon

The Kansas City Chiefs lead the league in one category, dancing. Last night they set some kind of record. They got penalized for celebrating a touchdown that wasn’t. Check out the third play. The Chiefs thought they took the lead 16-10 and they were flagged 15 yards for unsportsmanlike conduct. Replay overturned the touchdown, but not the penalty. And you wonder why the Chiefs are 1-8?





4. ….and a Hockey Game Breaks Out

Wow, they sure know how to get the headlines in NASCAR. Star driver Jeff Gordon intentionally wrecked Cliff Boyer in Sunday’s race in Arizona. Afterwards not only did the drivers get into it, but 
there was a brawl among the pit crews. And unlike most of these dustups, Gordon said hell yeah he did it on purpose. He was fined $100,000. Of course now comes the “rematch,” which should improve the TV ratings in Miami next weekend. I’m sure NASCAR fans, like hockey fans will say the media only pays attention when there’s fighting and brawling, where are we the rest of the time? Fair argument, but it’s hard to ignore a complete train (car) wreck.






5. Lawyer Up

A Buffalo Bills fan who moved to Florida is suing his favorite team. It seems the Bills get in touch with him too much. He signed up to receive “3 to 5″ text messages a week from his beloved team, and they didn’t keep their end of the bargain. One week they sent him 6 messages, and then a few weeks later they sent him, oh my gosh, 7. His suit claims that the team is in violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act. My only thought is, how do I get the job of being his lawyer? I’d love to bill him too.





Happy Birthday: Lakers Metta World Peace (Ron Artest). 33.

Bonus Birthday: Late night host Jimmy Kimmel. 45.

Today in Sports: Atlanta Braves pitcher Greg Maddux became the first pitcher to win four consecutive Cy Young awards. 1995.

Bonus Event: Ben Franklin wrote a letter to a friend opining that the only certainties in life are death and taxes. 1789.

It’s not too early to buy a holiday gift for that young sports fan in you life. If you’d like to purchase a personally autographed copy of my new book The Greatest Moments in Sports: Upsets and Underdogs, please contact the Dolphin Bookshop in Port Washington, New York at (516) 767-2650.

Len’s Top 5 – November 12, 2012

Len’s Top 5 – November 12, 2012

1. Quick Hits

* Mike D’Antoni is the new coach of the L.A. Lakers

* And then there were none. The last NFL undefeated team, the Atlanta Falcons, were beaten in New Orleans 31-27. Houston knocked off Chicago 13-6. The Rams and 49ers played to a 24-24 tie.

* Bye Bye ‘Bama. Alabama drops from the unbeaten ranks in college football, leaving Kansas State, Oregon and Notre Dame to battle for the top two spots.

* Spend, spend, spend. The Dodgers won the right to negotiate a contract with Korean lefty strikeout pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu. It cost them around $25.7 million just for negotiating rights.



2. Land of Oz

My! People come and go so quickly around here. Lakers coach Mike Brown was fired as Lakers coach before some people even realized the NBA season had begun. That’s what you get for a 1-4 record in Hollywood. (They’ve won both their games since Brown’s been fired.) Enter Mike D’Antoni, the former Suns and Knicks coach. The Lakers had an off-season makeover. Was it fair that Brown got no chance? Or if as Magic Johnson indicated, that Brown was the wrong choice in the first place, shouldn’t the Lakers have made this move before the season? Or in reality, isn’t it all about the players anyway. Do they actually pay any attention to the man behind the curtain?







3. Restitution

So now what for Bernie Fine? The Syracuse basketball assistant coach got fired in the maelstrom that followed the Penn State scandal. Now that federal authorities have dropped the case, how is Bernie made whole? Does my alma mater take care of him financially? Money won’t get him his good name back, unfortunately nothing probably will.





4. Giants Rule

So we’ve been making a big deal about the Giants being Super Bowl and baseball champs at the same time. Top 5 subscriber Roger E. points out that the Yomiuri Giants won the Japanese World Series this year as well. Look out for the Wabash College Little Giants!






5. If I Ruled the World

When I proposed a new NFL rule to stop kvetching by wide receivers looking for pass interference calls, you had some other ideas.

P.G. I would ban the kneel at the end of the game. I would make teams actually snap the ball and run some kind of play–handoff or pass. The kneel just seems, well, sissified, for such a macho game.

And on Facebook at “Len Berman’s Top 5″

S.N. The celebratory and gloating dance or gesture after every routine screen pass or reception has to stop.

A.O. Get rid of the stupid “icing the kicker” nonsense. It’s childish and unprofessional and most of the time doesn’t work.

M.R. As a Browns fan, I would like to see the “prevent-defense” outlawed!!

J.M. Instant full season suspension, without pay for any hockey player who drops his gloves. Do it again and gone for life.
Editor’s Note: What’s hockey?





Happy Birthday: The first perfect 10 in Olympic gymnastics history, Nadia Comaneci. 51.

Bonus Birthday: Actress Anne Hathaway. 30.

Today in Sports: Miami quarterback Dan Marino broke Fran Tarkenton’s all time passing record of 47,003 yards. Marino now ranks second to Brett Favre. Tarkenton is 6th. 1995.

Bonus Event: The first flying trapeze act was performed by Jules Leotard. He was wearing a….. oh never mind. 1859.

It’s not too early to buy a holiday gift for that young sports fan in you life. If you’d like to purchase a personally autographed copy of my new book The Greatest Moments in Sports: Upsets and Underdogs, please contact the Dolphin Bookshop in Port Washington, New York at (516) 767-2650.