TGIF everyone, here's my Top 5 for April 29, 2011 from Len Berman at www.ThatsSports.com.
1. Quick Hits
* Auburn quarterback Cam Newton was the first pick in last night's NFL draft by Carolina.
* The Giants, keeping with the royal theme, draft a Prince, cornerback Prince Amukamara from Nebraska.
* The NFL, after being sacked in court, is reopening for business with its players today.
* In the NBA playoffs, the Lakers, Hawks and Mavericks all wrapped up their series.
* The NCAA says no applications for new bowl games will be accepted for three years. Gee. That solves everything.
* A lot to live up to. A junior college basketball player from Nigeria says he'll play for St. John's. He's God's Gift. No really. His name is God's Gift Achiuwa.
2. And Down the Stretch They Come
The great voice of the Triple Crown horse races, Tom Durkin, is stepping aside. He's had it. He has been overcome by the anxiety of calling a two-minute horse race. I've called most major sports, and yes nerves set in, but nothing is as pressure-packed as "the fastest two minutes in sports," the Kentucky Derby. When you broadcast a football game, there is always time to correct a player's name or some other mistake. But horse racing? It recalls the classic story about old time sportscasters Bill Stern and Clem McCarthy. When Stern was calling a football game on radio, he had the wrong player running for a touchdown. So he just invented a lateral pass on the air, and then the correct guy scored. When McCarthy once called the wrong horse winning, he chided Stern by saying, "You can't lateral a horse."
3. Today In Sports
Some of you noticed that the "Happy Birthday" and "Today in Sports" were missing yesterday. As we say in TV, "technical difficulties." So here was yesterday's anniversary.
"Here we go again. Billy Martin is named manager of the Yankees for the 4th time when Yogi Berra is fired just 16 games into the season. 1985."
I remember it well. NBC sent me to interview Yogi Berra, because Yogi's good friend Joe Garagiola was in no mood to do the interview. I never saw Yogi so down. He always has a smile on his face; not that day. He was bitter about his firing for years. I'm glad that's all been patched up, and that the smile has returned. We love ya' Yogi!
4. Friday eMailbag
When I wrote, in regards to Derek Jeter's tiff with Alex Rodriguez, "You mean 'Captain' is supposed to mean something in sports?" Subscriber R.M. wrote, "Maybe it would mean something if it was a title given by the teammates as opposed to bestowed by the owner."
In the debate over what's a sport? A.B. writes from New Jersey, "Here in Bergen County, the Record's award-winning sports section has a poker column on Page 2. Poker?????"
Editor's Note: Hey, you live there. Don't blame me!
Now that the Oakland Coliseum, will be named Overstock.com Coliseum, C.P. writes, "So California will have stadiums nicknamed the Big A and the Big O?"
Editor's Note: Yup, just three vowels left.
And when I wrote about the caddies by day, prostitutes by night in Malaysia, M.T. wrote, "The national animal of Malaysia is the tiger."
Editor's Note: Actually, it's the Ma-lay-an Tiger.
5. Spanning The World
This week's Spanning the World highlight comes from the Netherlands. A toddler named Baerke van der Meij kicks soccer balls into his toy chest.
His local soccer team signed him to a 10-year professional contract. OK, it was just symbolic. But not bad for an 18 month old.
Happy Birthday: Tennis great Andre Agassi. 41.
Bonus Birthday: Yada yada yada. Jerry Seinfeld is 57.
Today in Sports: Wide World of Sports made its debut on ABC 50 years ago today. But ski jumper Vinko Bogataj didn't take his classic tumble until nine years later. 1961.
Bonus Event: They staged a little hitching ceremony (nice dress) today in London. Maybe you heard? 2011.
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