Happy Thursday everyone, here's my Top 5 for December 6, 2012 from Len Berman at www.ThatsSports.com.
1. Quick Hits
- Kobe Bryant became the fifth player and the youngest to reach the 30,000 career point plateau in last night's Lakers win in New Orleans. The other four? Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Karl Malone, Michael Jordan and Wilt Chamberlain.
- There's optimism in the air, could the NHL be returning soon? More talks yesterday, more talks today.
- Yo-yo. Mark Sanchez gets to start at quarterback for the Jets Sunday in Jacksonville. Doesn't mean he gets to finish.
- The Angels sign pitcher Joe Blanton who pitched for the Phillies and Dodgers last season. Seattle signed former Mets outfielder Jason Bay.
- Don Larsen's 1956 perfect game jersey sold at auction for $756,000.
2. Play Me or Trade Me
It was the feel good story of 2012 in sports. An old knuckleballer winning 20 games as well as the Cy Young Award. So what will the Mets do with R.A. Dickey? They could very well trade him. It's happened before, pitchers like Roger Clemens, David Cone and Pedro Martinez were all dealt right after winning. I have mixed feelings. The Mets finally had something to cheer about but you have to ask is a 38-year-old knuckleballer more valuable than what you can get in return for him? In 1977 Yankees reliever Sparky Lyle won the Cy Young award. After the 1978 season he was traded prompting Greg Nettles to quip that Lyle "Went from Cy Young to sayonara." Actually he went to Texas as part of a 10-player deal. One of the players the Yankees got from the Rangers in that deal was Dave Righetti.
Never has "rooting for the laundry" been more true. How often does the player you boo become the one you cheer for when he joins your team? Clearly the rivalry lines have been blurred. If Red Sox icons like Wade Boggs, Johnny Damon and Roger Clemens could all win rings in New York, why can't Kevin Youkilis? Even the concept of teams "hating" each other, like the old Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Giants is obsolete. What with free agency and players sharing agents not to mention All Star Games and the World Baseball Classic, the lines haven't just been blurred, they've been rubbed out. Did you know that Major League Baseball still has an anti-fraternization rule on the books? "Players of opposing teams shall not fraternize at any time while in uniform." That gets enforced about as regularly as time allowed between pitches: When nobody is on base, 12-seconds. Yeah right.
I saw where the guys who created the movie Hoosiers are being inducted into the Indiana Sports Hall of Fame. Gives me a chance to give another blatant plug for my new book aimed at young readers, The Greatest Moments in Sports: Upsets and Underdogs. Hoosiers is based on the true story of the 1954 Milan H.S. basketball team. And just like the movie, the real "Hoosiers" won their improbable championship on a last second shot. Two things about writing that story for my book. The scene in the movie where the coach, played by Gene Hackman, measures the height of the rim to prove to his kids that no matter how big the arena all the baskets are the same size, never happened. It was movie fiction. And when I wanted to publish the stats of the 1954 Milan team I got in touch with the Milan Museum which pays tribute to the "Milan Miracle." They told me the team didn't keep stats, they didn't think it was that important. Imagine that. Nowadays that would be considered a true miracle.
There have been some pretty great calls in sports history. "The Giants win the pennant" and "Do you believe in miracles? Yes!" immediately come to mind. But I'm not sure that the Houston radio call the other night by Craig Ackerman when the Rockets beat the Lakers is going into the "Broadcast Hall of Fame." But hey, you never know.
Happy Birthday: 3-time Tour de France winner (but stripped of his 2010 title for drugs) Alberto Contador. 30*
Bonus Birthday: Director/Screenwriter Judd Apatow. 45.
Today in Sports: Expansion! Gene Autry is granted an American League baseball team in Los Angeles. 1960.
Bonus Event: They completed construction of the Washington Monument in D.C. It took 'em 34 years. 1884.
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