08/19/2011 03:36 pm ET | Updated Oct 19, 2011

Top 5 Sports Stories

TGIF everyone, here's my Top 5 for August 19, 2011 from Len Berman at

1. Quick Hits

  • Seven former NFL players, including Super Bowl champion quarterback Jim McMahon, have sued the NFL for failing to protect their health and for trying to conceal any links between football and brain injuries.
  • Former Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor will be eligible for the NFL supplemental draft on Monday, but he won't be able to play for the first five weeks of the season. The NFL basically saying you can't violate NCAA rules and then get a free pass in our league.
  • Colorado Rockies minor leaguer, former Met Mike Jacobs, is the first pro baseball player to test positive for HGH. He was suspended for 50 games and the Rockies then released him.
  • Highly touted Washington Nationals minor leaguer Bryce Harper was carried off the field last night after apparently injuring his leg rounding the bases in Akron.
  • Joe Torre, the Major League exec in charge of such stuff, says the umps blew the call the other night in Kansas City when they awarded Billy Butler a homer. (See # 2 below).
  • So much for international relations. Georgetown and Chinese basketball players engaged in a chair-throwing brawl during a "goodwill game" in Beijing. It happened in the 4th quarter with the score tied. Needless to say the rest of the game got called off.
  • You guys were great on the subject of "greatest sports movie." We'll discuss next week.

2. Now What?

OK, the umps blew the call, but Joe Torre said the final score stands because Yankees manager Joe Girardi didn't protest. Really? So what would they have done if he had, replay the game from the third inning, awarding Billy Butler a double and not a homer? That would be the only call that makes sense. Everything that happened afterwards was in some way a result of the score. So would all the subsequent stats be thrown out? What a mess. Better idea: have the umps learn the rules before enforcing them.

3. The Olympic "Games"

They sure sound like fun, The Redneck Olympics in Hebron, Maine. Just the usual events involving lots of mud and the tossing of toilet seats. You know, highbrow sports entertainment. Well, the real Olympic guys weren't amused. They're threatening to sue if the "rednecks" continue to use the word "Olympics." They're kind of fussy like that. The guys in Maine are kind of stubborn themselves. They've basically said "buzz off." Help me here, can rednecks participate in a Mexican standoff? Anyway, there's a joke that goes, you might be a redneck if your wife can climb a tree faster than your cat. I'm thinking that could be a new event... for the real Olympics!

4. Friday eMailbag

When I wondered whether hitting 600 homers automatically makes Jim Thome a Hall of Famer, J.M. tweeted @LenBermanSports, "Bigger question on Thome. Why so little coverage of the 600 chase? The guy is everything good about baseball."

As for the new NFL kickoff rule that places the ball on the 35 and is intended to cut down on injuries, D.A. writes, "With all the protections now legislated, professional football is well on the way to becoming two-hand touch with personal seat licenses."

C.H. made a good point about the PGA Championship's low TV ratings. "Unlike the Masters, the PGA Championship was riddled with commercials, every 4 or 5 shots equaled 3 or 4 commercials."

Editor's Note: And many advertisers insist on re-running the same commercials over and over. I get it. That guy is really himself many years later.

5. Spanning the World

This week's Spanning the World highlight asks the question, if the batter doesn't want to bat, why can't the pitcher find home plate? Giants reliever Santiago Casilla was under orders not to swing. It was his first time up in the major leagues. Could he stand any further away from home plate? And how come Marlins pitcher Jose Ceda couldn't find home plate himself? Casilla now has a major league on base percentage of 1000%. (Same as the subject of Today in Sports, below).

Spanning the World airs monthly on NBC's Today Show. Next up, Wednesday September 28th in the 8:30 am half hour.

Happy Birthday: Tennis player Renee Richards (formerly Richard Raskind.) 77.
Bonus Birthday: Former President Bill Clinton. 65.

Today in Sports: 60 years ago today, 3'7" Eddie Gaedel walks on four pitches for the St. Louis Browns. 1951.
Bonus Event: The Russians launch two dogs, Belka and Strelka into space aboard Sputnik. And nobody got hurt. 1960.

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