Top 5 Sports Stories

Happy Monday everyone, here's my Top 5 for March 11, 2013 from Len Berman at

1. Quick Hits

  • The U.S. beat Canada nine to four to advance to the second round of the World Baseball Classic.
  • Tiger Woods won at Doral by two strokes.
  • The Pittsburgh Steelers released five-time Pro Bowl linebacker James Harrison.
  • The Miami Heat, on the strength of their 18 game winning streak, already clinched a playoff spot.
  • Back from the dead. The Lakers would qualify for the playoffs if they began today.

2. World Peace

Ah, the lofty ideals of sport. Bringing the world together to foster love and understanding. Right. What was more shocking, that Canada trounced Mexico 10-3, or that the two teams staged an all-out war on the field. A "real" baseball fight. Punches thrown, a bottle hurled by a fan in Phoenix hit one of Canada's coaches. It's a good thing the U.S. exists as a buffer state between these two warring nations. As for international sportsmanship, who's kidding whom? The whole idea of the World Baseball Classic is to "grow the game," ka-ching. So what if some nasty stuff gets in the way. It may even increase viewership for the Mexico/Canada rematch whenever that might be.

3. No Cheering in the Press Box

You expected Mariano Rivera to break down at his news conference announcing that he'll retire at season's end? This is the unflappable one on the mound. There's no crying in baseball. After he was through speaking the room filled with applause. I was curious to know if reporters were cheering. As you know, that's not kosher. So I asked WFAN's great beat reporter Sweeny Murti who exactly was doing the cheering? He said "Well I know I was. Maybe a few others but not the majority. Mostly it was his teammates." Too bad. If there was ever an athlete who deserves to be saluted by the media, Mo's the one. At least reporters have a full season to get it right.

4. All in the Family

Of course Indiana won the Big Ten basketball title for the first time in 20 years. They are coached by Tom Crean who is married to Joanie Harbaugh whose two brothers met up in this year's Super Bowl. But wait there's more. After the clinching game, Crean had a dustup with a Michigan assistant. You'll recall an NFL game in 2011 when San Francisco Coach Jim Harbaugh and Detroit Lions coach Jim Schwartz went at it. The goodbyes around the Harbaugh table must be a hoot at the end of Thanksgiving dinner.

5. Oh So Close

Did you hear the one about the fan who sank the half court shot but didn't win his $50,000? It happened at the MVC Tournament. Alex Permann made his layup, then a foul shot and then drained the half court shot. One minor problem, he forgot to shoot a three-point shot after the foul shot. Rules are rules. So no cash. But they gave Alex some lovely parting gifts. A lifetime pass to MVC Tournament games and a year's supply of pizza and donuts.

5A. March Madness

Here we go, our annual March Madness contest. Since this tournament will be a total crap shoot, all you have to do is pick the two teams who will play in the final game. (Men's Division 1.) Every person who does so will receive a That's Sports baseball/golf cap. Just email me your response with your two "winning" teams in the subject line. Only one entry per person. Deadline March 18th. Good luck.

Happy Birthday: Atlanta Braves second baseman Dan Uggla. 33.

Bonus Birthday: News Corp (Fox) honcho Rupert Murdoch. 82.

Today in Sports: Hooray for players standing around in the cold while a ref stares at a TV monitor. The NFL adopts replay. 1986.

Bonus Event: Same date, same year, more "freezing" news. Popsicle abandons its two-stick treat, for one stick. 1986.

To sign up for Len's free daily Top 5 email click here.