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Len Berman

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Top 5 Sports Stories

Posted: 09/22/11 11:47 AM ET

Happy Thursday everyone, here's my Top 5 for September 22, 2011 from Len Berman at www.ThatsSports.com.


1. Quick Hits

  • The Yankees clinch the American League East.
  • The Red Sox lose their 14th out of 18. Their wild card lead is two in the loss column over both Tampa Bay and the Angels.
  • Atlanta's NL wild card lead over St. Louis is narrowed to just one in the loss column.
  • When I saw that Tom Brady of the Patriots was named the offensive player of the week, I wondered if it was by the NFL or MADD?

2. Faking It

The NFL has sent a memo to all the teams to warn them about faking injuries. Teams could face disciplinary action. The St. Louis Rams were upset that a couple of Giants faked injuries Monday night to slow down the Rams no-huddle offense. What? There's faking in football? I thought the rules limit that to soccer (duh), NBA flopping, NHL diving and Derek Jeter pretending to be hit by a pitch.

3. Swinging for the Fences

The Mets are ready to concede that fans want more offense at Citi Field. It looks like they'll be moving in the fences. They've studied the stats and have quantified the fact that the ballpark yields a "below average" number of homers. They admit they'd like to be more "average." And they're honest too. General Manager Sandy Alderson said that while serious fans like low-scoring tight games, offense has broader appeal. So if you build it, they will come. If you build it smaller, more of them will show up.

4. 61*

Tomorrow night before the Yankees host the Red Sox, they'll honor the 50th anniversary of the M&M boys. What a season. Roger Maris hit 61. Mickey Mantle, 54. Members of both families will be on hand. The actual anniversary of Roger's 61st is October first. The first time I met Maris, I was a bit timid. I had read that he could be tough with the media. Turned out, he was one of the nicest guys I ever met. When I asked him about doing an interview at Old-Timers' Day, he said sure, anywhere I want to tape it. I didn't hesitate. We did it in the dugout, the same dugout he had to be pushed out of to take a curtain call after his 61st. Imagine that, curtain calls weren't routine. Roger once told me, "Now a guy just hits a sacrifice fly and he's out there waving to the crowd."

5. Strike Up the Ban

Hey, you can't have a major international sports invent without talking about noise. You had the vuvuzelas in South Africa for soccer, and now bagpipes have reared their ugly heads. The Rugby World Cup is going on in New Zealand, and Scotland is pissed. No bagpipes allowed. In fairness all musical instruments are taboo. What, they never went to a college football game? So far it hasn't hurt Scotland; they've won both of their matches. Still, Scotland isn't taking this lying down. The Scottish government has supposedly filed a formal protest. One guy is particularly upset. Bagpiper Matthew Strachan. He spent a ton of money to lug his bagpipes to New Zealand and so far he's been shut out. He's started a Facebook page. "Campaign to allow responsible bagpiping in all Rugby World Cup stadiums in New Zealand." Next up for Scotland is Argentina on Sunday, and players say they are "gutted" that they won't have the pipes for motivation. Gutted?


Happy Birthday: The great Tommy "I bleed Dodger blue" Lasorda. 84.
Bonus Birthday: Actress Bonnie Hunt. 50.

Today in Sports: The famous "long count" as Gene Tunney defeated Jack Dempsey to successfully defend his heavyweight title. 1927.
Bonus Event: If I were a rich man. Fiddler on the Roof makes its Broadway debut. 1964.


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