12/20/2011 10:45 am ET Updated Feb 19, 2012

Top 5 Sports Stories

Happy Tuesday everyone, here's my Top 5 for December 20, 2011 from Len Berman at

1. Quick Hits

  • Monday Night Football: Despite two power outages at Candlestick Park totaling 35 minutes, San Francisco beat Pittsburgh 20-3.
  • The Texas Rangers win the rights to negotiate with Japanese pitcher Yu Darvish.
  • For what it's worth, the Clippers showed who's boss in L.A. as Chris Paul and Chauncey Billups led the way over the Lakers 114-95 in an exhibition game.

2. Hey Yu!

It's costing the Texas Rangers a record $51.7 million and they don't even get a player. They merely win the rights to negotiate with Japanese pitcher Yu Darvish. The Red Sox forked out $51.2 million to negotiate with pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka and then they paid him another $52 million for a six-year contract. Over the past three seasons, Matsuzaka is 16 and 15. Some investment, huh? But remember, Nolan Ryan runs the Rangers, and he knows a thing or two about pitching. Even if the deal turns out to be the second worst in Texas history behind Alex Rodriguez, the Rangers are signaling that two straight World Series appearances aren't enough. They want to win it all. With aspirations like that, and with the cash they're throwing around, who do they think they are, the Yankees?

3. No Fun League

I was one of those who chastised the NFL for penalizing on-field exuberance. What's wrong with a little fun? Well now the pendulum has swung. These athletes are ridiculous. Every tackle, every reception, every first down isn't complete until the players gyrate or otherwise say "look at me." Sunday in Philly, Santonio Holmes of the Jets went into a ludicrous mocking of the Eagles while trailing by 18 points. Did he really care that it cost the Jets 15 yards? He had already coughed up 14 points with his two turnovers. And he's a team captain? So I propose a new rule. No celebrating of any kind until the game is over. No dancing. No flexing. Only football. Now that would be a fun league.

4. The Top Ten

I thought sports was supposed to be the "toy department." The AP voted the top 10 sports stories of the year, and #1 is the Penn State scandal followed by the NFL/NBA lockouts. An actual sports story, the Packers winning the Super Bowl, came in third. Only four of the top 10 stories involved success on the field. And you thought winning was everything.

5. On Dasher

Now we know which is the fastest in Santa's crew. After a sloppy start, Dasher won the reindeer race at Kempton Park in London. Of course Dasher was the fastest, duh. You expected Dancer or Prancer? Comet was a big disappointment, and don't even get me started on Rudolph.

Happy Birthday:
Mets third baseman David Wright. 29.
Bonus Birthday: Actor Jonah Hill. 28.

Today in Sports: Perish the thought. A game without announcers? That's what NBC did as the Jets beat the Dolphins 24-17. 1980.
Bonus Event: Elvis Presley was drafted. 1957.

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