10/03/2011 11:00 am ET Updated Dec 03, 2011

Top 5 Sports Stories

Happy Monday everyone, here's my Top 5 for October 3, 2011 from Len Berman at

1. Quick Hits

  • Milwaukee is the only baseball playoff team leading its series 2-0 (over Arizona.) St. Louis and Philly are now tied one game apiece.
  • Today's Schedule: Texas at Tampa Bay (series tied at 1) 5:07p Eastern, TBS. Yankees @ Detroit (series tied at 1) 8:37p, TBS.
  • Roar Lion Roar. The Detroit Lions are 4-0 after a stirring comeback against the Cowboys. In back to back the Lions trailed Minnesota by 20 and Dallas by 24 and won both games.
  • Welcome to the Big Ten, Nebraska. In their conference debut, the Cornhuskers got mauled by Wisconsin 48-17.

2. A Tale of Two Cities

Already fascinating stuff with the Yankees and Tigers after just two games. Detroit closer Jose Valverde guarantees the Tigers will polish off the Yankees in Detroit. He vows the series is not coming back to New York. Go get 'em Jose. And Yankee fans are already booing Alex Rodriguez. He's 0 for 8 in the two games, not exactly paying dividends on his $275 million contract. Nothing like kicking a guy while he's down. How quickly fans have forgotten his rocky season with knee and thumb injuries not to mention his breakup with Cameron Diaz.

3. Scapegoat

Red Sox manager Terry Francona is out. Of course he's not to blame for their epic collapse. Theo Epstein put those players in the dugout, including the under-performing Carl Crawford. Maybe it's "Joe Torre syndrome." After a while you need change for change's sake to shake things up. Francona guided this team to its first two championships in forever, and for that he deserves an immediate induction into the Red Sox Hall of Fame.

4. Ear Assault

Long-time readers of the Top 5 know I'm protective of sportscasters. Hey, everyone takes shots at us, we're sitting ducks. That doesn't mean I love everything I hear on the air. Over the weekend I was listening to a sports event. (OK, I'm still protective, no names.) I couldn't tell if the guys announcing the game were sportscasters or cheerleaders. Every first down for "their team" was greeted by high-pitched screeches. Every referee call against "their team" was "the worst of all time." Can sportscasters please make the slightest effort to wear their journalistic hats and leave the pom poms home?

5. 60 Years Ago Today

I haven't known Ralph Branca for the entire 60 years since he served up that gopher ball to Bobby Thompson, but a good portion of it. All these years later Ralph is beloved and for a guy who last played in 1956, he continues to make news. Recently it was discovered he has Jewish roots. And he's just out with a book A Moment in Time: An American Story of Baseball, Heartbreak and Grace. Ralph was devastated by yielding that home run. Fans have long forgotten he was a terrific pitcher and that the late Bobby Thompson was just a journeyman. And by the way, the Giants were stealing signs. But forgetting all that, Ralph is a fixture on the New York charity circuit and one of the truly great guys in sports. That's what I choose to celebrate on the 60th anniversary of the biggest home run in baseball history.

Happy Birthday: Hall of Famer Dave Winfield. 60.
Bonus Birthday: Chubby "Let's Do the Twist' Checker. 70

Today in Sports: 60 years ago today, The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant! 1951.
Bonus Event: O.J. Simpson was acquitted of double murder. He was later found liable in a civil trial, and is currently serving a 9-33 year sentence for armed robbery. 1995.

To sign up for Len's free daily Top 5 email click here.