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Top 5 Sports Stories

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Happy Wednesday everyone, here's my Top 5 for April 25, 2012 from Len Berman at www.ThatsSports.com.

1. Quick Hits

  • The NBA suspended Metta World Peace seven games for his vicious elbow on Sunday.
  • The Indianapolis Colts confirm they will take Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck with the #1 pick in tomorrow's NFL draft.
  • Louisiana state police and the FBI are investigating allegations that New Orleans Saints general manager Mickey Loomis would listen in on opposing coaches during games.
  • The Devils forced a seventh game against Florida in the NHL playoffs.
  • Soccer fans are all agog as Chelsea reached the Champions League final by stunning Barcelona 3-2 (on aggregate goals) despite playing with only 10 men for most of yesterday's game.
  • A Forbes poll has NASCAR driver Jimmie Johnson as America's most influential athlete for the second straight year. Tim Tebow is #2.

2. Feel the Draft?

With the first two picks tomorrow night being quarterbacks, Andrew Luck by Indy and Robert Griffin III by Washington, it reminds us that drafting a quarterback early is not a sure thing. Washington thought they had their quarterback in Heath Shuler in 1994. He's better known in Washington as a congressman from North Carolina. In 1998 Ryan Leaf was considered a toss-up number one pick with Peyton Manning. We all know how that turned out. Then there's JaMarcus Russell drafted #1 overall by Oakland 5 years ago. He's out of football. The draft looks so easy beforehand. Afterwards is a whole other story.

3. Upon Further Review

They review every scoring play in the NFL and the NHL, is baseball next? Dodgers manager Don Mattingly would like to see it especially on game ending plays. The Dodgers lost to Milwaukee last week on a questionable call at the plate. In Detroit Sunday, the Texas Rangers scored the winning run on a foul ball. Alberto Gonzalez bunted with the bases loaded and he admitted afterwards that the ball struck his leg before going fair. If they used replay on game-enders, Armando Gallaraga would have gotten his perfect game in Detroit two years ago when umpire Jim Joyce blew the call at first base. Then again, if they used replay to determine the final out of Philip Humber's perfect game Saturday, they might still be looking at the video to determine whether Seattle's Brendan Ryan really swung at that last pitch. Thank goodness nobody has suggested replay for every scoring play in the NBA.

4. What's the Point?

The #1 seed in the East, the New York Rangers could be eliminated tomorrow night by #8 Ottawa. While the #1 seed in the West, the Vancouver Canucks, are already toast. A #1 seed was also knocked off in the first round in 2010 and another in 2009. But never both of them in the same year. So you have to ask again, how meaningful is the regular season? When you hear players and coaches say, "We just want to make the postseason," they are right. In truth, the regular season doesn't mean anything, other than that. Of course that's small consolation to the fans who pay for all those games. Just treat a regular season hockey game like a Broadway Show. It's entertainment. Just with more fighting and an unpredictable ending.

5. The Top 10

It's interesting looking over that Forbes list of the most influential American athletes. Here they are:

1. Jimmie Johnson
2. Tim Tebow
3. Peyton Manning
4. Manny Pacquaio
5. Tom Brady
6. Aaron Rodgers
7. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
8. Drew Brees
9. Eli Manning
10. Jeremy Lin

That's six football players, two NASCAR drivers, one boxer and one NBA player, Linsanity himself. Where's LeBron or Kobe? Tiger? Jeter? Not a single baseball or hockey player. Nobody from golf or tennis. I'd be interested to hear your thoughts.

Happy Birthday: San Antonio Spurs center Tim Duncan. 36.

Bonus Birthday: Actor Al Pacino. 72.

Today in Sports: At Dodger Stadium, Cubs outfielder Rick Monday records the greatest save in baseball history. 1976.

Bonus Event: Holy comic books! Batman arrives on the scene. 1939.

Spanning the World airs tomorrow on NBC's Today Show during the 8:30 a.m. half hour.

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