Top 5 Sports Stories

Happy Monday everyone, here's my Top 5 for February 28, 2011 from Len Berman at

1. Quick Hits

* Brooklyn Dodgers icon Duke Snider is dead at the age of 84.
* The Knicks go into Miami and knock off the Heat 91-86, as Amar'e Stoudemire blocks LeBron James' layup in the final seconds.
* Britain's Luke Donald wins the Match Play Championship beating world #1, Germany's Martin Kaymer.
* Apropos of nothing, in the world rankings, the top American is 5th in golf (Tiger Woods and Christie Kerr) and 8th in tennis (Andy Roddick and Venus Williams).

2. The Duke of Flatbush

As a kid I hated Duke Snider. How could I not? I was a Mickey Mantle devotee. Even then I knew that Willie Mays was the best of the 3 New York center fielders. As for the Duke? He played for the Dodgers, and I hated the Dodgers. As an adult I loved the Duke. I interviewed him on many occasions, the last time live on New York television on his 80th birthday. He was always great to talk to. I once fessed up to Duke about my dislike for the Dodgers as a kid. He amusingly answered "everyone can't be perfect." Snider holds a special place among millions of Brooklyn fans. And now the last surviving regular of the "Boys of Summer" is gone. His former Brooklyn teammate Ralph Branca summed up Duke this way when he told me yesterday, "A good guy and a heck of a center fielder. Good family man." Nice legacy.

3. The Envelope Please

Since you were probably watching the Knicks/Heat game, you didn't miss a whole lot at the Oscars. All the favorites won, including both supporting acting categories for The Fighter. I always like to see sports films getting their due. In case you were wondering, only three sports movies have won the Best Movie Oscar. Rocky (1976), Chariots of Fire (1981) and Million Dollar Baby (2004). You gotta be kidding. Two fictional boxing movies and track? How about The Natural? Or Field of Dreams? Kings with speech impediments or boats that run into a little chunk of ice win, but no baseball? C'mon Hollywood. Play ball!

4. None and a Half Men

At least Charlie Sheen knows enough to include sports in all of his rantings. On the Today Show this morning he offered, "scoreboards don't lie," "defeat is not an option," and he even invoked the name of Allen Iverson. Sheen said he's missed rehearsals and likened it to Iverson's famous rant, "practice, we're talking about practice?" Sheen also claimed he has an offer to film Major League III. As you may know, Sheen once purchased the ball that Mookie Wilson hit between Bill Buckner's legs. He sold it, losing money on it. There's a shocker.

5. Final Curtain

They are shutting down the famed Pauley Pavilion at UCLA for renovations. Of course it was the late John Wooden who put the place on the map. On Saturday, UCLA knocked off Arizona in the final game before they rip the place apart. And who should score the final basket in the history of the current building? Of course. The great-grandson of John Wooden, Tyler Trapani. UCLA coach Ben Howland got pretty broken up about it.

Now that's a Hollywood ending.

Happy Birthday: Race car driver Mario Andretti. 70.
Bonus Birthday: Actress/singer Bernadette Peters. 63.

Today in Sports: Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale begin a joint holdout against the Dodgers. Koufax eventually settled for $120,000. Drysdale for $105,000. 1966.
Bonus Event: The final episode of M*A*S*H, which at the time was the most watched show in American TV history. 1983.

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