09/16/2011 03:03 pm ET Updated Nov 16, 2011

Top 5 Sports Stories

TGIF everyone, here's my Top 5 for September 16, 2011 from Len Berman at

1. Quick Hits

  • Oakland ends Detroit's 12-game winning streak, 6-1. Tigers' magic number to clinch the AL Central remains at 1.
  • The Red Sox are clinging to a three-game wild card lead after Tampa Bay beats them at Fenway 9-2.
  • We might not have an NBA season, but at least we'll have refs. The league and the referees hammered out a new five-year agreement.
  • Jack Nicklaus with 18 major titles says Tiger Woods with 14 can still eclipse him "if he gets the five inches between his ears squared out." In other words Jack says it's all mental.

2. Score!

So what should we expect in week two of the NFL? Subscriber John D. had a great line. "Basketball fans needn't fear the loss of the season, football has become basketball if you look at the scores. What ever happened to defense?" Great question, John. Actually the 752 points scored in week one only tied for ninth in NFL history, but passers did set a record. They passed for a combined 4 1/2 miles. 7842 yards. There's an old line that goes "offense is for show, defense for dough." Looks like plenty of defenses went broke. With the lockout, maybe it was easier to draw up plays touch-football style, than to hone your defense.

3. Such a Deal

What a come on. A carpet company in Dallas offered free flooring and counter tops if Josh Hamilton of Texas hit a grand slam homer. Here's the TV commercial. The catch is, you had to buy the stuff in advance. Well Hamilton hit a grand slam the other night, and it turns out plenty of customers did buy. The company said it'll cost them about half a million bucks. BUT, they had an insurance policy. Talk about a win-win, unless you're the poor insurance agent who wrote the policy.

4. Friday eMailbag

Lots of you disagreed with Major League Baseball's decision to not allow the Mets to wear special caps on the 10th anniversary of 9/11. Top 5 subscriber E.H. writes, "MLB needs to worry more about 4 hour games and 4 hour rain delays than 4 letters on caps: FDNY NYPD."

C.B. has an early nominee. "Sports Illustrated should start collecting photos of Novak Djokovic for the Sportsman of the Year issue. What he has done this year is comparable to Tiger in 2000."

A.H. had these thoughts about Plaxico Burress criticizing Tom Coughlin and Eli Manning. "As a criminal defense lawyer, I can say Burress blaming everybody but himself is typical of an anti-social personality and shows he is capable of doing the same thing or worse again. Contrast his idiotic statements to Michael Vick, who has the attitude of somebody who genuinely feels bad about what he did and has so far walked a humble path."

L.F. is underwhelmed by Giants quarterback Eli Manning. "The only Brady that Eli is comparable to is Marsha."

5. Spanning the World

This week's Spanning the World highlight comes from Tigers catcher Alex Avila. He takes a foul ball off the mask, and the sparks literally fly. Check out the replays.

Spanning the World next airs on NBC's Today Show Wednesday September 28th in the 8:30 am half hour.

Happy Birthday: The great NBA Hall of Famer Elgin Baylor. 77.
Bonus Birthday: Amy Poehler of SNL fame. 40.

Today in Sports: Sugar Ray Leonard knocked out Tommy Hearns to win the welterweight title. 1981.
Bonus Event: Bon voyage. The Mayflower sets sail from England. Thanks to their on-board GPS they landed at Plymouth Rock three months later. 1620.

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