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Austin Powers III was better sequel that Lakers-Celtics

BY JOE SANTORO

Sports fodder for a Friday morning . . .

The Reno Silver Sox (yes, they are still playing at Peccole Park) are going to stage a mustache growing contest next month. It seems five Silver Sox fans (insert joke here) are threatening to shave their mustaches on July 1 and will grow them back over the rest of the month. What, exactly, is Silver Sox management trying to tell us? Is it that Golden Baseball League action is as exciting as watching a mustache grow? Or is this just a slick way to prove that the Silver Sox actually have five fans who will remain loyal to the team over an entire month? All we can say is that Triple-A baseball can’t get here fast enough.

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Who’s to blame for the recent rash of unlawful activity by Wolf Pack football players? Well, it’s not the coaching staff. It’s time we stop blaming college coaches for the off-the-field actions of their athletes. That also includes going to class. We do we hold coaches responsible for graduation rates? Why doesn’t anyone blame the science, math, history or law professors for poor graduation rates? Coaches can’t hold the hands of their athletes and walk them to class. Nobody blames a high school coach if one of his or her athletes gets arrested or fails to pass a class? So why do we blame the college coach?

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The surprising thing about Wolf Pack football players getting arrested for driving under the influence and possession of an illegal substance a few weeks ago is not that they were arrested for such crimes. Young men, after all, will be young men. The surprising thing is that they somehow came up with the money to afford gasoline.

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Let’s hope some team in the NFL gives ex-Pack player Ezra Butler another chance. A year ago Butler was one of the top defensive players in the country. But Butler missed the Pack’s season opener at Nebraska because of marijuana use and nine months later was released by the San Francisco 49ers after getting arrested in Reno. Go ahead and criticize Butler for making such silly mistakes, hurting his college team and jeopardizing his NFL career. He certainly doesn’t deserve praise. But let’s keep it in perspective. Adam “Don’t Call Me Pacman” Jones is back in the NFL. Ray Lewis is back in the NFL. You can bet Michael Vick will be back in the NFL in a few years. Josh Hamilton was allowed back into major league baseball. And, it seems, 75 percent of the players on NBA rosters sprinkle marijuana on their Corn Flakes in the morning.

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The way the New York Mets botched the firing of Willie Randolph this week brought to mind a certain northern Nevada university. That university ( we won’t name names) allowed its athletic director to fire its head football coach after the football coach’s best season at the school and then allowed that A.D. to take that football coach’s job after looking for a new coach for, oh, the time it takes to order a pizza.

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What did we learn during this year’s NBA FInals? Well, we learned that Kobe Bryant is more Scottie Pippen than Michael Jordan. We learned that the Los Angeles Lakers play defense like a 1970s vintage ABA team. And we learned that this Lakers-Celtics finals matchup when compared to the 1980s battles was a worse sequel than the third Austin Powers movie.

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The national media made a big deal a few weeks ago when a Golden Baseball League pitcher named John “Don’t Call Me Blue Moon” Odom went to a United League team for 10 bats. The story got even better this week when Ripley’s Entertainment bought the bats for $10,000. Amazing. What’s the big deal about two independent leagues, including a mustache growing contest league, dealing a pitcher? This was certainly not the first time a player was traded for office supplies. It even happened in Reno back in 1989 when Silver Sox general manager Jack Patton traded pitcher Tim Fortugno to the Milwaukee Brewers for $2,500 and 12 dozen baseballs. The trade of Fortugno had much more meaning than the Odom publicity stunt because the Silver Sox were in a legitimate minor league (California League) at the time, the Brewers were a major league organization and Fortugno later pitched in the big leagues.

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OK, we’ve been known to bash golf and its so-called athletes. But Tiger Woods’ performance in the U.S. Open on one leg, no less, was truly one of the greatest sporting events in history. Big Brown could take a few lessons from Tiger on how to compete. It’s too bad Tiger is now going to miss the rest of the season, leaving golf about as interesting as an independent league baseball club with mustache growing contests.

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Sports Cliche We Hate: Professional baseball players who answer most every question by saying, “Well, we just wanted to go out there and have fun.” Have fun? Nobody is paying you to go out there and have fun. You are paid to go out and win. My fantasy teams needs you to go out there and hit home runs and steal bases. The guy in the 15th row in the upper deck who paid $45 for that stupid seat behind a pole needs you to go out there and turn that double play in the eighth inning. Fun? What does fun have to do with it? Fun went out the window with utility infielders and middle relievers making $3 million a year. Fun disappeared when fans are charged $50 to park their car and $12.50 to eat a hot and drink a beer so they can pay that middle infielder $3 million a year. Fun? There’s no fun (and crying) in baseball.

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Rotoworld.com, a fantasy sports Web site, rates Wolf Pack wide receiver Marko Mitchell as the 41st best wide receiver in college football. Class, what have we learned from this? Well, we’ve learned that there are way too many fantasy sports to keep track of. We’ve also learned that if you are worrying about who the 41st best wide receiver in college football is, you should be spending your time doing productive stuff like betting on the Pro Bowl and fretting over who will be the 25th pick in the second round of the NBA draft next week.