Top 5 Sports Stories

Happy Wednesday everyone, here's my Top 5 for January 20, 2010 from Len Berman at

1. Quick Hits

* The Buffalo Bills have a new coach. Former Dallas Cowboys coach Chan Gailey.

* U-Conn basketball coach Jim Calhoun, a cancer survivor, is taking a medical leave of absence.

* Cleveland's Shaquille O'Neal becomes the 5th NBA player to reach 28,000 points. Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Karl Malone, Michael Jordan and Wilt Chamberlain are the others. Shaq said if he didn't miss so many free throws he'd be at 30,000 by now.

* Closer Jonathan Papelbon and the Red Sox avoid arbitration. One year, $9.35 million. That's a record for a reliever with 4 years or less of service.

* Catcher Bengie Molina reups with the SF Giants instead of signing with the Mets.

* Giants pitcher Tim Lincecum, the back to back NL Cy Young winner, is asking for a record $13-million in arbitration. The Giants are offering $8-million.

* The Mets have named Darryl Strawberry, Dwight Gooden, Manager Davey Johnson and General Manager Frank Cashen to their Hall of Fame. All are most worthy.

2. The News Cycle

Having worked in the news business, I've seen how it works. A big story breaks. It gets covered, and then the media moves on. Haiti doesn't and shouldn't work that way.
Word comes that at least 30 members of Haiti's soccer federation, players, refs, coaches and other officials, perished in the earthquake. The federation's headquarters collapsed.
Meanwhile, the coach of the South Dakota State basketball team, Scott Nagy, will coach shoeless this weekend. His adopted daughter is from Haiti and he wants to raise awareness and money. He also wants to collect shoes for Haitian kids in need.

Good for coach Nagy, and for everyone else who refuses to let this news cycle die.

3. Small D

Wow. I didn't know there were so many Dallas Cowboy haters out there. When I suggested Dallas might have been right in their criticism of Minnesota for running up the score against the Vikings, they came flying out of the woodwork.

*Bill.R. writes, "Why is it classless to score points you can get? If they didn't want them to score again, maybe they just should have ended the game early."

*From Jim S. "I think the classless thing would have been for Minnesota to kick a FG from there.....or if they had thrown a bomb from 70 yards downfield ....but not this."

*And from Don A."You mean the Cowboys of the leg-whipping and tripping Flozell Adams et al. are complaining about another team? They were beaten like a junkyard dog. They should have the class to shut up and go home."

Silly me. I thought the Cowboys were America's Team.

4. Pet Peeves

We all have pet peeves in sports, but what can we do about them? There's always talk radio to blow off steam. I got even luckier. The current issue of American Football Monthly asked me to write a guest column. The magazine is mostly read by football coaches.

Now I had my chance. Who hasn't wanted to give some football coach or other a piece of his mind? So I wrote an article about coaches who give up on what's working during a game and resort to gimmick plays that fail. I've even seen the great Bill Parcells do it.

But I can see it now. Dozens of coaches reading my little diatribe and then going back to trying to draw up the perfect triple reverse.

(If you've got a pet peeve, check out my new "Comments" section at

5. What's in a Name?

When I mentioned Ernie D's birthday, (former ball handling whiz Ernie DiGregorio turned 59 last week,) subscriber Richard F. wrote that the defensively challenged Ernie had one of his favorite nicknames, "Ernie No D." He said another favorite nickname was former Mets reliever Bob Apodaca. After surrendering some long homers he was dubbed "Bob Upper Decker."
OK, now it's your turn.

Happy Birthday: Chicago White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen. 46.
Bonus Birthday: The second man to set foot on the moon in 1969, astronaut Buzz Aldrin. 80.

Today in Sports: The birth of happiness and then years and years and years of agony. The Boston Red Stockings come into existence. 1871.
Bonus Event: Remember way back when? When everyone seemed happy for one day? Barack Obama is sworn in as President of the United States. 2009.