Happy Wednesday everyone, here's my Top 5 for April 6, 2011 from Len Berman at www.ThatsSports.com.
1. Quick Hits
* The NFL labor dispute finally winds up in a Minnesota courtroom today.
* Texas A&M beat Notre Dame 76-70 to win its first NCAA women's basketball championship.
* Is this what you figured for the American League East? Baltimore is 4-0, Boston and Tampa Bay are 0-4 and the Yankees are in third place.
* What happened to the Wrigley faithful? Yesterday they had their smallest crowd in nine years. They were treated to a win.
* Nelson Cruz of Texas failed to hit a homer in last night's Texas win. He had homered in the first four games. Only Willie Mays in 1971 and Mark McGuire in 1998* had done that.
* The Masters Golf Tournament begins tomorrow.
2. Hail to the Champs
We didn't run a contest for the Women's NCAA tournament. Good thing. Nobody would have picked Texas A&M, even kids who go to school there. Actually, at the risk of offending a few readers, there's not much interest in the women's tournament. Just look at the empty seats at their Final Four. I know I'll hear the inevitable carping that if the media covered the women more, there would be more interest. But it's not the media's job to create interest, just to report on it. As for the winner of my Top 5 NCAA contest, as I mentioned, his name is Kenny and he's a freshman at U-Conn. He reports that there was only one car overturned on campus during the celebration. I guess that's progress. He has chosen as his prize the $250 gift certificate from Steiner Sports.
As for the winner of the mini-contest, 48 of you correctly picked U-Conn to beat Butler. Dave Z. from Highland Lakes, New Jersey, had the closest score. And he wasn't that close. Just like Butler. He wins the coveted That's Sports Hat, just in time for golf and baseball seasons. More contests to come.
Apropos of nothing, you might be interested in what the various costs are for baseball games around the country. No surprise that the Yankees and Red Sox are among the highest ticket prices. But did you know that parking at some Tampa Bay Rays games is free? Compare that with $35 for the Yankees. In fact, for what it costs to park at Yankee Stadium you can buy two tickets to a game in Pittsburgh and get $4.40 change. The Reds have the cheapest hot dog at $1. The Mets have the most expensive at $5.50. So, once again, a hot dog at Citi Field is more expensive than a share of stock in Citigroup, for which the stadium is named.
4. Call of the Wild
When the Huskies beat the Bulldogs Monday night, Jim Nantz proclaimed U-Conn "Best in Show." A bit less commercial than Brent Musburger's call in the Fiesta Bowl that a field goal attempt was "For all the Tostitos." But this is nothing new. Some of the great announcers, like Mel Allen, proclaimed Yankee home runs as "Ballantine Blasts." Then there were successful Knicks baskets called by the legendary Marty Glickman that were "Good like Nedick's." I'm just glad the 1980 U.S. hockey team wasn't sponsored by plant food products. "Do you believe in Miracle-Gro?"
5. Creeping Commercialism
Not all commercial tie-ins are bad. The San Diego Padres have come up with a good one. If a Padres player hits a homer into a can of paint, $500,000 goes to charity. The local paint company has erected a 10-foot paint can 376 feet from home plate. I like it. I'd like it even better if players from both teams were eligible. And how long before a giant cup of Budweiser appears at Busch Stadium?
Happy Birthday: New Hall of Famer pitcher Bert Blyleven. 60.
Bonus Birthday: Actor Paul Rudd. 42.
Today in Sports: Let's get ready to cheat! The first modern Olympics opened in Greece. 1896.
Bonus Event: After 6 months of happily wedded bliss, Carmen Electra filed for divorce from another new Hall of Famer, Dennis Rodman. 1999.
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