Happy Wednesday everyone, here's my Top 5 for January 23, 2013 from Len Berman at www.ThatsSports.com.
1. Quick Hits
- Serena Williams is out at the Australian Open, beaten by 19-year-old American Sloane Stephens. (Williams took it out on her racket.) Stephens, Victoria Azarenka, Roger Federer and Andy Murray all reached the semis.
- New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton has been reinstated after a year suspension for "Bountygate."
- Tempest in Raider nation. Two former players charge that Oakland coach Bill Callahan intentionally sabotaged their chances in Super Bowl 38 against Tampa Bay. Callahan "categorically and unequivocally" denies the charge.
- 77-year-old Dodgers great Sandy Koufax joins the Dodgers as a special adviser.
- The Cincinnati Reds will host the 2015 All-Star Game. The New York Mets will host this season and the Minnesota Twins in 2014.
- It's always something: Jets coach Rex Ryan ran a red light earlier this month in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania causing a three-car accident. Nobody got hurt.
2. Same Old
Now we know why we had to endure that ridiculously long NHL lockout. So players could fight as soon as they dropped the puck. Nothing has changed. Coaches send out goons and they fight as soon as the game starts for no reason other than to get their teams and or the crowd revved up. Sure, hockey fans love it. But perhaps that helps explain why hockey has far fewer fans than the other more civilized sports.
3. Cold War
Nothing symbolized the Olympic "cold war" more than John Thomas and Valery Brumel, the Bostonian taking on the Russian in the high jump. Brumel bested Thomas at the 1960 and 1964 Olympics. But it was their rivalry which in part fueled interest in the Olympics, the "us vs. them" mentality. Despite world records that he set, Thomas felt he was unfairly criticized for not winning Olympic gold. John Thomas died the other day at the age of 71 while undergoing surgery. He reminds us of a time which seems so ancient by today's standards, when national rivalries and the high jump seemed to really matter.
4. In Memoriam
Jessica Redfield was one of the victims of the Aurora, Colo. movie shootings. She was a young hockey reporter. For last night's opener in Denver, the Colorado Avalanche had this memorial for her in the press box. Classy.
I had the honor of emceeing the B.A.T. last night along with Yankees broadcaster Michael Kay. B.A.T. is a wonderful charity that helps members of the baseball family who are in need. Last night's honoree was Yogi Berra and there was no shortage of Yogi stories. Reggie Jackson talked about lining up during Old Timer's Day when the scoreboard reflected those who had passed away during the previous year. Yogi told him, "I hope I never see my name up there." And Jim Palmer told a story I never heard before. A group of Hall of Famers were in Cooperstown and Yogi was asked what he wanted written on his tombstone. Yogi said, "That's easy. It's over." Perfect!
Happy Birthday: Two-time World Cup winner and two-time Olympic gold medalist in soccer, Julie Foudy. 42.
Bonus Birthday: Law and Order star Mariska Hargitay. 49.
Today in Sports: O.J. Simpson becomes the first Heisman Trophy winner to be elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. 1985. Ten years to the day later, Simpson goes on trial for murder. 1995.
Bonus Event: Now we can have a great basketball rival for Syracuse and St. John's. Georgetown is established as the first Catholic college in the U.S. 1789.
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