Top 5 Sports Stories

TGIF everyone here's my Top 5 for the Ides of March, 2013 from Len Berman at

1. Quick Hits

  • The Dominican Republic beat the U.S. 3-1 to reach the final round of the World Baseball Classic. The U.S. plays Puerto Rico tonight in an elimination game.
  • Here's why it's so hard to repeat in the NFL. The Baltimore Ravens have already lost six starters from their Super Bowl team.
  • The famous "tuck rule" in the NFL could be on the way out. If a quarterback doesn't pass, brings his arm down and loses control it would be deemed a fumble and not an incomplete pass.
  • The NHL approves realignment for next season. There will be two eight team divisions in the East (Detroit and Columbus are moving into the Eastern Conference). There will be two seven team divisions in the West. It will be a little harder to make the playoffs from the East.
  • Legendary New York high school basketball and basketball coach Jack Curran is dead at the age of 82. At Archbishop Molloy he amassed 972 wins in basketball and 1,708 in baseball. Former St. John's coach Lou Carnesecca sums it up. "He was one of the true saints in scholastic sports."

2. Foul or Defend?

As you get ready for March Madness, what will your favorite coach do on defense with a three point lead in the final seconds? Will he let the other team shoot a three to possible tie, or will he foul to give them two shots? Many outspoken fans say "You have to foul!" Well next time somebody yells that in your ear, tell them about yesterday's Charlotte/Richmond game in the Atlantic 10 tournament. Charlotte led by three with 4.7 seconds to go, so Richmond fouled. Fair enough. What ensued was one for the books. Richmond was called for two personals and three technicals. Charlotte's Pierra Henry made 8 of 11 foul shots. A 3-point deficit Charlotte became a five-point win. You sure you wanna foul next time?

3. Breaking Point

Spring training attendance is down, significantly. A 14 percent drop from a year ago. Lots of reasons are cited, but one that jumps out is ticket prices. Spring training games can be as bad as the fourth NFL exhibition game when it comes to player appearances. You may go to see your favorite team and you're lucky if there are a couple of recognizable names in the lineup. That's all well and good. A nice winter's day at the ballpark is a great time-killer. But not when some tickets for these games cost more that $50. That doesn't count concessions and programs to figure out who these people are.

4. Friday eMailbag

In regards to the Canada/Mexico basebrawl, and the notion that sports brings the world together, H.K. writes, "The whole concept of building international understanding through sport, laudable as that may be, has never been the reality. At best, international sport serves as a hoedown where the Hatfields and McCoys check their guns at the door."

On the anniversary of the NFL adopting replay in 1986, J.G. wrote, "So we've been listening to announcers remind us that 'the evidence has to be decisive to overturn the call' for 27 years? When will we remember on our own?"

And when we talked about the Top 5 Yankees of all time, and where Mariano Rivera, Derek Jeter and Yogi Berra would rank, J.R. wrote on Facebook at "Len Berman's Top 5." The Yankees are the first team in professional sports to burst the sides of the "Top Five" category. Due to the team's superiority, the first applicable category should be the "Top Ten." Some other teams out there could not fill a "Top Ten" unless bat boys were allowed."

Editor's Note: In fairness other teams have terrific "Top 10s." Among them the Boston Celtics, Montreal Canadiens and Pittsburgh Steelers.

5. Spanning the World

This week's Spanning the World highlight comes from a Phillies spring training game. For years they've had Hooter's girls as "ball girls" down the foul lines. The results are predictable.

Spanning the World airs monthly on NBC's Today Show. Next up: Friday March 29.

Happy Birthday: Yankees third baseman Kevin Youkilis. 34.

Bonus Birthday: Black Eyed Peas founding member 38.

Today in Sports: 511 wins are quite enough. Pitcher Cy Young retires from baseball. 1912

Bonus Event: Julius Caesar gets whacked, coincidentally on the Ides of March. 44 B.C.

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