- The Washington Times
Thursday, November 24, 2011


It’s Thanksgiving weekend. And what would Thanksgiving weekend be without a bowl of mixed nuts? Try not to dislodge a filling while chewing on any of these:

• I see Dan Snyder refused to field any questions about his team at the Washington Redskins’ annual Harvest Feast at FedEx Field (for Prince George’s County families in need). Must have gotten a wishbone caught in his throat.

• Wonder if the Redskins extracted any useful intelligence about the Dallas Cowboys from Tashard Choice. It was a pretty nifty move, you have to admit. They claimed Choice on waivers from the Cowboys on Oct. 31 and cut him immediately after playing Dallas three weeks later. Granted, Tashard didn’t remind anybody of Emmitt Smith during his brief stint in Washington, but it still looks a little suspicious. In fact, it’s the kind of stunt George Allen might have pulled.

• Two brothers coaching against each other in the NFL — on Thanksgiving Day, no less. Does this make John Harbaugh (Baltimore Ravens) and Jim Harbaugh (San Francisco 49ers) the Jeff and Stan Van Gundy of pro football?

• Harbaugh, by the way, is such a fabulous football name. For one thing, it has “Baugh” buried in it. For another, the “H” looks like a pair of old goal posts.

• How bizarre is it that the Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals — three of baseball’s most storied franchises — have been looking for a manager? And now Ohio State and Penn State — two of college football’s most famous programs — are looking for a head coach. It must be great to be Urban Meyer. If I’m the Nittany Lions, though, I go hat-in-hand to Bill Cowher, just to find out whether the former Pittsburgh Steelers coach has any interest at all in the job. Now that would be a great hire.

• Just thought of something: “Coaching Penn State” is the sort of thing that would be on Lou Holtz’s bucket list — somewhere between “Jumping out of an airplane” and “Having parachute open successfully.”

• I’m always fascinated when a pitcher wins the Cy Young Award, then finishes behind another pitcher in the MVP voting — sometimes by a fair distance. That’s what happened in the National League this year. Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers ran away with the Cy, getting 27 of the 32 first-place votes, but Roy Halladay of the Philadelphia Phillies outpolled him in the MVP balloting, placing ninth (with 52 points) to Kershaw’s 12th (29).

I know, I know. Team accomplishment tends to count more heavily in the most-valuable voting, and the Phillies posted the best record in baseball — while the Dodgers missed the playoffs. It’s just one of those Baseball Writers Association of America curiosities. Another example: 1990, when Bob Welch of the Oakland A’s easily won the Cy (after racking up a whopping 27 victories, the most in the last 40-odd years), but Roger Clemens of the Red Sox just as easily outdistanced him in the MVP beauty contest (finishing third to Welch’s ninth, on the strength of a 1.93 ERA that was one run lower than Bob’s).

• And in the Best Performance by a Geezer category, how about Mariano Rivera of the New York Yankees getting some Cy Young love at the age of 41? (He finished eighth.) Clemens, of course, won the Cy with the Houston Astros in 2004 after turning 42 in August, but, well … (cough, cough). The Rocket isn’t the only oldster, though, who has fared better than Mo. Phil Niekro, for instance, near the end of his Atlanta Braves days, came in fifth in 1982 at 43 (following a 17-4 season that saw him pitch 234 1/3 innings), and Nolan Ryan, then with the Texas Rangers, also came in fifth in ‘89 at 42 (thanks, in large part, to his major league-leading 301 strikeouts).

And this, I’ll just remind you, was before the invention of 5-hour Energy (the miracle tonic of the new millennium).

• How long do you figure it will be before the fifth playoff team they’re adding in the AL and NL goes on to win the World Series? In 1995, remember, four clubs qualified for the postseason for the first time, and by ‘97 the wild card Florida Marlins were going all the way.

Washington Nationals in 2014? (Or will they be winning division titles by then?)

• LSU, Alabama and Arkansas — three SEC schools — are 1-2-3 in this week’s BCS rankings. Bully for them. But it’s doubtful they’ll end up in the top three spots, like Nebraska, Oklahoma and Colorado — three Big Eight schools — did in the final AP poll after the 1971 season. The Cornhuskers went 13-0, the Sooners 11-1 (losing to Nebraska) and the Buffaloes 10-2 (losing to Nebraska and Oklahoma).

When all three won their bowl games decisively, the voters said, “Hey, maybe these are the three best teams in the country.” And, amazingly, they might have been.

• As always, Happy Thanksgiving to Joe “Turkey” Jones, the erstwhile Cleveland Browns defensive end, who once mistook Terry Bradshaw for a petunia bulb and tried to plant him, head first, in the turf.

Copyright © 2021 The Washington Times, LLC.