Award-winning Sunday

Boy, has it been a crazy busy couple of weeks. The next couple aren’t exactly free with high-school basketball playoffs starting up today, but saw a couple of things that struck me from Sunday’s sports action that seemed worthy of mention. And since the Oscars were last night, I’ll give them the appropriate honors. Just no staues or goodie bags; can’t afford them on a reporter’s salary.

So let’s start handing out some virtual hardware:

  • Best Attempt to Sabotage the Team You Cheer For: The male Louisville cheerleader who, after a dunk gave the Cardinals a five-point lead with 0.5 seconds left, came onto the court, grabbed the basketball and heaved it into the air. That drew a technical foul, which gave Pitt two foul shots and the ball — and with it one last shot at tying the game. Lucky for him Pitt’s desperation heave after the two made foul shots was off, but I still don’t think he’ll hear many cheers from those who recognize him in the near future.
  • Worst Thing to Happen to a Pro Sunday: Mika Koivuniemi had the U.S. Open Bowling Championship all but wrapped up.

    Mika Koivunemi collapses after missing a 10-pin spare to lose the U.S. Open at Carolier Lanes in North Brunswick, N.J. Sunday.

    Sure, Norm Duke had done everything he had to in order to stay alive, throwing four strikes in a row to finish, forcing Koivuniemi to need a spare and an eight-count to win. He could’ve won with his first shot, but didn’t get the carry the 10-pin. He then got his spare shot too far out, and it slid into the gutter just before reaching the 10. He collapsed onto the floor, and Duke sat stunned after just being handed the title. It took Duke nearly a full minute to collect himself and go claim the trophy that was his against all odds for the second time in four years. Koivuniemi was one of the hottest bowlers the entire week, and rolled a 299 just last month while winning the Tournament of Champions. While happy to accept the trophy afterward, Duke said, “I know how this hurts. I don’t wish this pain on anybody.”

  • Best Hall of Fame Outfielder and Song Subject to Pass: Duke Snider. The Dodgers’ legendary slugger, immortalized in song as the third option among center fielders with Willie Mays and Mickey Mantle by Terry Cashman, was 84. He didn’t put up the same numbers as the Say Hey Kid or the Mick, but he was the heart and soul of teams in Brooklyn and Los Angeles, and was second in MVP voting to teammate Roy Campanella when the Dodgers won it all in 1955. He deserves his place in history, and is one less great to treasure.
  • Best Imitation of Someone Two Inches Taller Than Himself: Auburn defensive tackle Nick Fairley, who measured in at the NFL Combine at 6-foot-3, which isn’t the 6-5 he’d been listed at while playing for the national champion Tigers. Whoops. It probably won’t affect his draft status much, I just thought it was funny.
  • Best Latest Example of ESPN’s Desperation for Features: Sunday night’s piece on … jousting. Yes, jousting. I don’t care that the guys in the finals could run me through on a horse and beat me up off of one, this was maybe the most ridiculous thing I’ve seen on this network since it used to run Magic: The Gathering tournaments on the deuce.

OK, I’m all done, and we’re not running late like every Oscars telecast. I’d like to thank my agent and my publicist. Good night.