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Top 5 Sports Stories

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Happy Tuesday everyone, here's my Top 5 for July 13, 2010 from Len Berman at

1. Quick Hits

* George Steinbrenner is dead at the age of 80.
* The 81st All Star Game is tonight in Anaheim.
* Boston's David Ortiz won last night's Home Run Derby.
* NBA Commissioner David Stern says that LeBron James and his buddies weren't guilty of collusion. Stern fined Cleveland owner Dan Gilbert $100,000 for his critical remarks of James.
* Not bad. Over 24 million watched the World Cup final on Sunday, making it the highest rated soccer game in U.S. television history.
* A sad day in the prognostication business. The German aquarium that houses Paul the Octopus, who went 8 for 8 in his World Cup picks, is retiring Paul from all future oracling, sports or otherwise. So give Paul a hand...make that several hands.

2. The Boss

There was no one quite like George Steinbrenner. When you walked into the Stadium, or spring training, as a reporter, it didn't matter what the players were doing. You had to know where George was. He was the news. I probably criticized him more than any other personality, but he never held a grudge. And he heard it all. He had all the New York papers delivered to Tampa, and rigged a special TV set-up to get all the New York channels. This was before the era of satellite TV. No sports figure dominated the back pages like George. And no owner has had the impact on his sport that he has had. Yankee fans owe him everything for their success. Nobody wanted to win more than he. A fitting honor would be a posthumous hall of fame election. I'll miss ya' big guy!

3. Starry Starry Night

So 50 years from now, how will tonight's all stars be viewed? In 1960, 50 years ago, they played two All Star Games. The National League featured position players like Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Roberto Clemente, Ernie Banks and Stan Musial. The American, Mickey Mantle, Ted Williams, Brooks Robinson, Al Kaline and Yogi Berra. How will Derek Jeter and Albert Pujols stack up a half century from now? Quite well, thank you. But I defy you to find 5 legitimate hall of fame position players on each team tonight. Is the talent watered down in 2010? Was it easier to stand out in 1960? Discuss among yourselves. By the way, the National League won both All Star Games in 1960. In the second game, at Yankee Stadium, Willie Mays homered off Whitey Ford. Now that's an All Star Game!

4. Memories

The passing of Bob Sheppard has evoked an outpouring of emotions. For many fans, like myself, it takes us back to our childhood. Jim S. sent along this memory of standing behind Bob in the press dining room. At the bar, "The clear, concise, correct Mr. Sheppard said 'I'll haaavve a beeahh, please.' Bob brought his class and perfect elocution to even the most mundane and pedestrian of tasks: ordering a beer."
Jim continued, "What I wouldn't give to spend one more Saturday afternoon in the Old Stadium with my late father, talking baseball, filling in the lineups in our scorecards and listening to that voice."
Thanks Jim. Well said.

5. Journalistic Integrity

When the winning goaltender from Spain, Iker Casillas was being interviewed by his TV reporter girlfriend Sara Carbonero, things got a little out of hand.

Damn how I wish my interviews with Reggie Jackson had ended that way!

Happy Birthday: Former heavyweight champ Michael Spinks. 54.
Bonus Birthday: Indiana Jones himself. And Han Solo too. Actor Harrison Ford. 68.

Today in Sports: Reggie Jackson hits a mammoth home run at Tigers Stadium in the All Star Game. 1971.
Bonus Event: Frank Sinatra recorded his first record with the Harry James band. 1939.