Happy Thursday everyone, here's my Top 5 for March 31, 2011 from Len Berman at www.ThatsSports.com.
1. Quick Hits
* It's Opening Day in baseball. Six games are on tap, including the champion Giants visiting the Dodgers. Shouldn't the World Champs get to open at home?
* Giants pitcher Barry Zito was taken to the hospital after a car accident last night in L.A. It wasn't believed to be serious.
* A lawsuit filed by NBA Hall of Famer Elgin Baylor against the L.A. Clippers charging age discrimination has been rejected.
* The NBA is investigating Jay-Z showing up in Kentucky's locker room. Jay-Z is a Nets owner and can't associate with college players who are not draft eligible.
* Four former Auburn football players, in a report aired on HBO last night, said they were paid thousands during their college years. Ya' think these were the only four in the nation?
2. Lockout? No, Lockup!
How are NFL players spending all their locked-out free time? Working out on their own and studying the legal issues involved in the standoff? Well, some are involved in the legal system. Packers defensive lineman Johnny Jolly remains jailed on a drug charge. He faces life in prison. But Tampa Bay cornerback Aqib Talib is free on bail after his arrest following a shooting incident. Money and fame have proved too much to handle for some athletes. So for some, the extra free time during a labor dispute can't be a good thing.
3. 61 in '61
Yesterday I tweeted @LenBermanSports that wouldn't it be nice if Major League Baseball honored the "natural" home run champ, Roger Maris, during the 50th anniversary season of his accomplishment? @Stefmara tweeted to tell me that the Yankees have a Roger Maris night scheduled for September 23rd. @Stefmara says her grandfather was at the game. Attendance for the milestone was only 23,154. I always thought that was because of the dimwitted actions of Commissioner Ford Frick. He placed an asterisk on Maris' 61 because Maris had 162 games to break Ruth's record of 60, which was set in a 154 game season. So Frick diminished the record. I'm guessing at the Yankees Maris celebration there won't be any tributes to Frick.
4. You Betcha
Don't you wonder if somebody put his money where his mouth is? Well it turns out somebody did. Someone bet big on VCU to win it all. Yup, some guy plunked down 10 bucks in Vegas at 5,000-1 odds. So if VCU wins two more little games, this big spender walks away with $50,000. It could have been worse for the Las Vegas Hilton. At one point this year, the odds on VCU winning it all were 9,999-1.
5. The Legend of Kegasus
So here's what happens when the tradition of sports collides with crass commercialism. Take a look. He's Kegasus. Half man, half horse, with the man part sporting a beer gut. It's an advertising campaign to draw party animals to the infield at the Preakness, the second jewel of horse racing's Triple Crown. They want young people setting attendance, not to mention, alcohol records. But a Maryland lawmaker wants to play party pooper. He doesn't think that the Kegasus mascot is the image that Maryland should be presenting to the world. Then again, the infield features all you can drink beer for $20; who should the mascot be, the Church Lady?
Happy Birthday: Mr. Hockey. The great NHL Hall of Famer Gordie Howe. 83.
Bonus Birthday: He almost became the President. Al Gore. 63.
Today in Sports: In an exhibition game in Tampa, Denard Span of the Twins laces a foul ball that strikes his mom sitting in the stands. Span rushes to her aid. Mom is tough. After she was treated, she returned to her seat. 2010.
Bonus Event: Not a bad photo op. The Eiffel Tower opens in Paris. 1889.
Second chance! Here's my Top 5 mini contest for the Final Four. Predict the winner of the championship game, and the school they will beat. And for the tiebreaker, the final score. (Yes, the 2011 men's tournament and Division I for all you nitpickers, and you know who you are.) Enter here.
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