09/07/2012 11:02 am ET Updated Nov 07, 2012

Top 5 Sports Stories

TGIF everyone here's my Top 5 for September 7, 2012 from Len Berman at

1. Quick Hits

  • The men's semifinals are set for Saturday at the U.S. Open. Novak Djokovic vs. David Ferrer and Andy Murray vs. Tomas Berdych.
  • The women's semifinals will be played today. Victoria Azarenka vs. Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams vs. Sara Errani.
  • In a battle for first place, Baltimore beat the Yankees 10 to six. They are again tied for first.
  • Oakland A's pitcher Brandon McCarthy was in stable condition after having surgery for a skull fracture and brain contusion after being head in the head by a line drive.
  • Rory McIlroy is one of four golfers who shot an eight-under-64 to lead the way at the BMW Championship in Carmel, Indiana. Tiger Woods is one stroke back.

2. On Ice

September 15 is the day. NHL players will be locked out. The usual suspects are caught in the middle, employees, vendors and of course the fans. As usual in these labor disputes fans try desperately to be heard, normally it's like yelling into the wind. But this will be the first Twitter NHL dispute. There's a Twitter account called @UnfollowNHLSept15, urging fans to join us in staging a social media protest against the possible 2012 NHL Lockout! It hasn't exactly taken the Twitterverse by storm with just 2500 followers so far. Others have set up a website called They're organizing a protest outside NHL headquarters in New York on September 15. They urge protesters to bring megaphones, signs and anything else they can think of. Will social media have any impact on the players and owners in their negotiations? Probably not. But at least things will get noisier.

3. Art Modell

In Cleveland, Art Modell is the later day Walter O'Malley. He took the Browns to Baltimore for a better deal. Thank goodness the "Browns" name and colors remained in Cleveland, one of America's great football cities. I hesitate to say this without making my Cleveland friends incensed, but Modell did a lot of good for the game helping to grow the NFL. I know that's little solace for heartbroken Browns fans, but at least you got another team. And the Dawg Pound lives. Brooklyn is still waiting for the return of Major League Baseball.

4. Friday eMailbag

Top 5 subscriber P.C. has given up on the Yankees. "Yanks are in big trouble. The GM doesn't know what he is doing. The manager is a nice guy who makes questionable moves. The owner of the richest team in the world wants to get cheap and says he doesn't want to pay luxury tax. Yet he keeps increasing ticket prices, parking and everything else. I'm giving up my tickets."

From Red Sox fan J.G., "Help!!!! 3rd generation Sox fan feeling the blues, and my soccer team (Liverpool) is off to their worst start since 1962. Any coincidence that Fenway Sports Group owns Liverpool?"

Editor's Note: Help? I'll see what I can do.

When I mentioned the anniversary of a panel of baseball experts voting to drop the * next to Roger Maris's 1961 home run record, P.B. wrote: "The thing is, there never was an asterisk. I've examined every 'official' record book published between 1960 and 1992 up at the Hall of Fame library and verified for myself that there is not now and never was an asterisk in any of them."

Editor's Note: She is correct. So in essence that crack baseball committee voted to drop something that didn't exist.

5. Spanning the World

This week's Spanning the World highlight shows how tough they make the cheerleaders at Boise State. One them gets blindsided and she literally laughs it off. And nobody got hurt!

Spanning the World airs monthly on NBC's Today Show. Next up: Thursday, September 27th in the 8:30 a.m. half hour.

Happy Birthday: Three time champion with the Oakland A's, outfielder Joe Rudi. 66.

Bonus Birthday: The voice of Marge Simpson, Julie Kavner. 62.

Today in Sports: Althea Gibson wins the U.S. Open (Featured in my new book for young readers, see below). 1957.

Bonus Event: The first heavyweight championship is fought under the Marquis of Queensberry rules. James Corbett knocked out James L. Sullivan in the 21st round. 1892.

I'm happy to report my newest book for young readers, The Greatest Moments in Sports: Upsets and Underdogs, is now in stock.