Top 5 Sports Stories

09/30/2011 03:37 pm ET | Updated Nov 30, 2011
  • Len Berman Emmy Award winning sportscaster and New York Times Bestselling Author

TGIF everyone, here's my Top 5 for September 30, 2011 from Len Berman at

1. Quick Hits

  • The baseball playoffs begin today:

    Tampa Bay at Texas 5:07p Eastern on TBS

    Detroit at New York 8:37p TBS

  • The National League playoffs get underway tomorrow.
  • Reports are surfacing that following their collapse Terry Francona is done as Red Sox manager.
  • NBA negotiations resume today in New York. Most observers say regular season games are on the line this weekend.
  • The Italian basketball team Virtus says it has a verbal agreement for Kobe Bryant to play in Italy during the NBA lockout.

2. Mop-Up Duty

A couple of thoughts about the end of the regular season Wednesday. I've never seen anything like it. Within minutes two teams completing epic collapses, while two other teams celebrate amazing comebacks. Funny how the focus is on the losers, not the winners. And Jose Reyes becoming the first Met to win a batting title. He left the final game after a first inning bunt single. Let's just say he's no Ted Williams. You've probably heard it by now but it bears repeating. In 1941 Ted could have sat that day and his batting average would have been rounded up to .400. Ted insisted on playing in a doubleheader and went six for eight, finishing at .406. In the 70 years since, nobody has batted .400. That's the way it's done, Jose.

3. Heart Rendering

The San Francisco Giants handed out Tony Bennett bobblehead dolls the other night. (Thanks to subscriber Kenn F. for the tip.) The best part, you push a button, and Tony sings. Of course the Giants are the only team that can do it. Tony didn't leave his heart in Cleveland.

4. Friday eMailbag

As for Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick complaining that the refs don't protect him, Giants fan J.M. responds, "THIS IS FOOTBALL! IT IS A CONTACT SPORT! What a crybaby! "
And D.R. takes it much further: "He sees himself as the victim: a victim of the refs, a victim of the criminal justice system, a victim of his circumstances. Nothing is ever his fault, nor will it be. One major failing of sports journalists is to take at face value these miraculous rehabilitation of bums, from Billy Martin to Lenny Dykstra to Plaxico Burress to Michael Vick. Only when pigs fly."

When I wrote about the controversy in South Wales, where prisoners are demanding more TV sports channels, and authorities claiming that's not what prison is all about, Top 5 subscriber J.P. who lives in South Wales writes why it's a controversial issue. "The root of the problem is that over here lots and lots of ordinary folks don't have cable themselves. It's because the former coal mining regions that make up South Wales are now the largest areas of unemployment in the entire country. A higher percentage of people collect benefits here than in any other part of Britain."
And R.M. adds, "Prisoners should be 'educated and learn skills?' Kind of like major college sports athletes."

5. Spanning the World

This week's Spanning the World highlight comes from the CFL, where BC Lions defensive back Korey Banks runs a "post pattern." And nobody got hurt!

Spanning the World airs monthly on NBC's Today Show. Next up, Thursday October 20th in the 8:30am half hour.

Happy Birthday: Red Sox hitting coach Dave Magadan. 49.
Bonus Birthday: Actress Angie Dickinson. 80.

Today in Sports: Babe Ruth hits his 60th homer of the season against Washington's Tom Zachary. 1927.
Bonus Event: The great Pittsburgh Pirate Roberto Clemente records his 3000th hit. Nobody knew at the time it would be his last. 1972.

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