It's a bird, it's a plane, it's Hamilton

BY JOE SANTORO

Sports fodder for a Friday morning . . .

Josh Hamilton is Superman, Spider-Man, Mickey Mantle, the Incredible Hulk and Batman all rolled into one amazing package. Once again baseball reminds us why it is the sport we care about the most. A trivial, made-for-TV home run hitting contest turned into the event of the summer when Hamilton blasted pitch after pitch into the New York night on Tuesday night. The crowd chanting his name the same way it chanted "Reggie, Reggie, Reggie" in the 1970s, Hamilton signing autographs for players' kids between swings, David Ortiz, Milton Bradley, Miguel Tejada, Reggie Jackson and other All-Stars past and present standing there in awe as Hamilton did the impossible. No other sport could have achieved that moment. Hitting a home run is still the single greatest act in sports and still leaves us with our mouths and eyes wide open each and every time even after all these years.

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Why hasn't some major league team signed Claybon Council as a pitcher? Council, who served up all of Hamiltion's majestic homers, can obviously throw strikes. He throws harder than Jamie Moyer. And he's durable. The old right-hander tossed over 100 pitches to Hamilton. Are you telling me he can't help some team down the stretch?

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Rick Reilly, the former Sports Illustrated columnist who now writes for ESPN.com, should stick to print journalism. Reilly made a fool of himself during ESPN's telecast of the Home Run Derby. Reilly, for some reason, felt it necessary to point out that all eight of the participants in the Home Run Derby were "white guys," as if it was some racial conspiracy on the part of major league baseball and commissioner Bud Selig. That was neither the time or the place to accuse baseball of racism. A lot of black and Latin players, for various reasons, turned down an invitation to participate in the Derby. Many of those players were at Yankee Stadium watching and cheering Hamilton. Has anybody complained because they weren't allowed to compete in the Home Run Derby? Reilly needs to go back to writing columns on the last page of Sports Illustrated.

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OK, yes, the NBA's Summer League is a joke. Players just run up and down the court, play little defense, rarely break a sweat and just worry about piling up meaningless stats in the hopes of landing a full-time job. We get it. It's a lot like sportswriting. But it is nice to see that three former Pack players " JaVale McGee, Ramon Sessions and Nick Fazekas, are playing well this summer. McGee is averaging 10 points and five rebounds a game for the Washingtion Wizards, Fazekas is putting up 7.5 points and eight rebounds a game for the Los Angeles Clippers and Sessions has been one of the top point guards in the league, averaging 16.5 points and 6.5 assists a game for the Milwaukee Bucks. Another ex-Pack player, Marcelus Kemp, is averaging 3.3 points in just under seven minutes a game for the Los Angeles Lakers.

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Poor, poor Brett Favre. Boo-hoo. The Green Bay Packers won't just drop all of their plans and make Favre the starting quarterback just because little Brett wants to come out and play again. Somebody, please, hand Favre a handkerchief to wipe his eyes. The Packers are doing the right thing by playing hardball with Favre. If Favre wants to force the Packers' hand to put him back on the roster then the Packers should just stick him on the bench behind Aaron Ridgers and use him like a high-priced relief pitcher. Hey, Brett, there is always the Arena League. They'd even let you play linebacker if you'd like.

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Why should the Packers make Favre the starter? What if Favre gets two weeks into training camp and finds out that his heart just isn't in it? What if Favre reverts back to his 2006 and 2005 form when he was one of the worst starting QBs in the league? What if Rodgers pouts (he'd have every right) and decides he wants out of Green Bay, putting the Packers quarterback situation in jeopardy for the future? Come to your senses, Brett. Trust your decision to retire. You need to treat the Packers with more respect than this.

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A high school basketball player " Arizona Wildcats recruit Brandon Jennings " says he is going to skip college and go play in Europe until the NBA comes calling. What does this mean for college basketball? Well, it means that college basketball will be minus one spoiled, selfish player. Let him go. Wish him well and barely notice he's gone. College basketball will be just fine without him.

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In a perfect world, college basketball would require players to play at least two seasons before leaving for the NBA. One year is better than none, but not much better. The dirty little secret the NCAA doesn't want you to think about is that the players that spend just one year in college rarely spend a full year in school. They just attend classes for one semester just to make sure they remain eligible through basketball season. Once basketball season is over in March, they forget how to find the classroom. How can you concentrate on that biology exam (Biology? Yeah, right. How to Wax Your Mercedes 101 is more like it) when the NBA is waving millions of dollars in your face? A kid like Jennings, therefore, is only really missing out on a few months of class time, if that. That's why the NCAA needs to keep kids in school for at least two years. Who knows, they might even discover they enjoy it and want to stick around a little longer.

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Congratulations to former Bishop Manogue pitcher Kevin Jepsen for making the USA Olympic baseball team, which will compete next month in Beijing. Jepsen, whose fastball came within a whisker of 100 miles an hour for the Miners, was one of the most dominant pitchers to ever play in Northern Nevada. It's a testimony to his character and determination that he has battled through some injuries to revive his career at the age of 23 (he'll turn 24 next week) as a closer in Triple-A for the Angels and will now be pitching for his country.

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ESPN, which likes to create meaningless, trivial news on slow news days to fill its 24-hour sports and hype station, is going to name which city is deserving to be called Titletown, USA. Is there really any other choice but New York? The Yankees, Giants (baseball and football), the Jets, Rangers, Knicks, Islanders, Mets, the heavyweight fights, the NIT (when it meant something). We could go on and on. But we need a stupid Internet poll to make it official, right?

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