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Top 5 Sports Stories

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Happy Tuesday everyone, here's my Top 5 for June 5, 2012 from Len Berman at www.ThatsSports.com.

1. Quick Hits

  • Oklahoma City is one game away from the NBA Finals after winning in San Antonio 108-103 to take a three games to two in the Western Conference Finals.
  • The L.A. Kings are one game away from winning the Stanley Cup after beating the Devils 4-0 and taking a commanding 3-0 lead.
  • An arbitrator ruled that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell had the authority to discipline New Orleans Saints players for the bounty system.
  • The NFL is hiring replacement officials in case the league can't reach an agreement with its regular zebras.
  • The defending women's champ, Li Na who last year became the first player from China to win a Grand Slam singles title, was ousted in the fourth round by 142nd-ranked Yaroslava Shvedova of Kazakhstan.
  • The Houston Astros with the #1 pick in the baseball draft chose 17-year-old shortstop Carlos Correa from the Puerto Rico Baseball Academy.

2. Quiet on the Set

So did Phil Mickelson withdraw from the Memorial because he was fatigued or because he was annoyed by all those cell phone pictures being snapped? Actually, it was probably the 79 that he shot that aimed him for the exit sign. But what are we to make of this cell phone issue? I remember at the U.S. Open at Shinnecock, phones weren't allowed on the course and got confiscated at security. Now the rules have been relaxed. You can keep your phone, but you can't talk or take pictures. But really, I think golf needs to loosen up. Jack Nicklaus said he never heard anything while he was playing. So the message is, concentrate on what you're doing and stop sweating the small stuff. In fact I say bring on the noisemakers. Let's make it a party!

3. The Triple Crown

Triple Crown fever hasn't exactly gripped the country. How come? We haven't had a Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978, the longest drought. And yet I sense a lack of excitement over I'll Have Another. At first, I thought it was the name. Not exactly Citation, War Admiral, or Secretariat who all won the Triple Crown, but a horse named because an owner wants more cookies from his wife! Or is the general lack of interest in horse racing? The sport of kings, like boxing, used to rule. That day has long passed. More likely it's the trainer, Doug O'Neill. He's had numerous drug issues with his horses and he is currently suspended in California. There's no evidence that I'll Have Another is tainted, but O'Neill casts a long shadow. Too bad. It takes away from a great story. Jockey Mario Gutierrez has never raced at Belmont. No problem, he never raced at Churchill Downs or Pimlico either before winning last month. Gutierrez and I'll Have Another could make history on Saturday, and no matter what you think of the trainer, that's something to get excited about.

4. Don't Mess With the Press

They don't fool around in NASCAR. Driver Kurt Busch didn't like a reporter's question so he threatened him on camera "for asking stupid questions." Not smart. NASCAR has suspended Busch for the upcoming Pocono race. A poll earlier this year listed Busch as the 10th most disliked athlete in America. Depending on how you feel about "stupid questions" and the media this can either help or hurt his ranking.

5. Meet Me in St. Louis

I've been getting killed on Twitter by St. Louis partisans. When I mentioned that the St. Louis Post-Dispatch put an asterisk in its headline for Johan Santana's no-hitter because of the blown call, I wondered how many asterisks the paper used when describing the heroics of their hometown hero Mark McGwire? Thank goodness for the objectivity of St. Louis resident H.S. He reminds me that when Bob Forsch of the Cards pitched a no-hitter against the Phillies in 1978, an eighth inning hit was changed to an error by the official scorer who worked for none other but the St. Louis Post- Dispatch! I'm guessing the paper didn't hang an asterisk on that one either.

Happy Birthday: 1968 Olympian John Carlos who along with Tommie Smith delivered Black Power salutes on the Mexico City medal stand. 67.

Bonus Birthday: Actor, producer and former rapper Mark Wahlberg. 41.

Today in Sports: The Los Angeles Kings are granted an NHL franchise. 1967.

Bonus Event: Elvis Presley introduces Hound Dog on The Milton Berle Show. His hip movements cause a major brouhaha. 1956.

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