Johnson’s body of work among the best | NevadaAppeal.com

Johnson’s body of work among the best

Joe Santoro
For the Nevada Appeal

Sports fodder for a Friday morning . . . Randy Johnson is the best left-handed starting pitcher in baseball history. The Big Unit will likely end his career after this season with about 310 victories and 5,000 strikeouts. Those numbers alone eliminate 99.999 percent of all left-handers in the history of the game from this conversation. And he did it all smack dab in the middle of the steroid era, throwing a juiced baseball into a shrinking strike zone against designated hitters in homer-friendly ballparks. I would take Koufax in his prime over Johnson (and every other pitcher in history) in his prime for one game. But this question is not about one game. This is about a body of work over an entire career. Koufax was Koufax for only about five or six years. Johnson was Koufax for about 15 years.

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There are just 92 shopping days remaining before the Nevada Wolf Pack football team shocks the world by beating the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in the shadow of Touchdown Jesus. Get excited, Wolf Pack football fans. I know that thrilling, edge-of-your-seat Pacific Coast League baseball season is enough to get you through the summer. But we are on the verge of a special time in Wolf Pack football history. It’s been about a decade now, but football is about to reclaim its lofty status as the King of Wolf Pack sports. How does a 10-2 season sound?

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All of the first three teams on the Pack football schedule – Notre Dame, Colorado State and Missouri – have much bigger games the following week and will overlook the Pack. The week after they get beat by the Pack, Notre Dame will meet Michigan, Colorado State plays BYU and Missouri plays Nebraska. The Pack plays just two games in a 27-day stretch from Sept. 6 through Oct. 2 so they will be well rested before they whip UNLV on Oct. 3. Colin Kaepernick will be the most productive quarterback in college football and would be invited to New York for the Heisman presentation if he played at a BCS school. Yeah, 10 wins sounds about right.

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You can learn on collegefootballgeek.com that Kaepernick has Kanye West and Lil Wayne on his iPod, was one of the best high school pitchers in the state of California in high school and was just as good as Matthew Stafford, Josh Freeman and Jake Locker in a 2005 quarterback camp in Las Vegas. He received more baseball scholarship offers in high school (three) than football (one). Say what you want about Chris Ault and his coaching staffs throughout the years. But they have always recruited extremely well, uncovering hundreds of hidden gems. Kaepernick might be the best of all of them.

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LeBron James received a lot of public heat this week for not shaking the hands of the Orlando Magic or talking to the media after the Magic eliminated James’ Cleveland Cavaliers from the NBA playoffs. First of all, talking or not talking to the media is irrelevant now. Players don’t need the conventional media anymore. All they have to do is Twitter (Twitch? Toot? Tweet? Tattle? Tickle?) out a few gems like, ‘Gee, I hope my team wins tonight” or “Wow. Those Corn Flakes sure did taste swell this morning” and the public is satisfied. But not shaking the Magic’s hands is inexcusable. Show some class, LeBron. Grow up. Little Leaguers shake their opponents’ hands. Hockey players who just punched each other in the face shake hands. Football coaches shake hands. Be a man, LeBron, and not just a spoiled, pampered, I-pay-people-to-blow-my-nose-and-wipe-my-sweat, who-needs-college, millionaire-at-the-age-of-18 brat.

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Derrick Rose is being accused of paying someone to take his SAT test for him. His high school in Chicago is being accused of giving him fake grades. The sport of basketball, the University of Memphis and Rose are all being criticized. Enough, already. This is not a basketball problem. This is not a college recruiting problem. This is an education problem. It’s time educators start taking responsibility for handing out bogus grades, looking the other way and allowing an otherwise bright and motivated young man to reach the age of 17 or 18 and feel that he is incapable of attaining even a minimum score on a college entrance exam.

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A high school teacher will give a star athlete who won’t study or do the required homework a fake grade just to keep that athlete eligible but try to find a coach who will keep a student with a 4.0 grade point average on the roster who doesn’t come to practice. What’s the difference?

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The media is as much to blame as anyone or anything for spoiled athletes. This week, for example, Sports Illustrated has put 16-year-old Las Vegas High baseball player Bryce Harper on its cover. They are calling Harper “The Chosen One” and “the most exciting prodigy since LeBron.” There are videos all over YouTube of Harper hitting a baseball. And, yes, Harper is already on Wikipedia. It is all a bit disgusting and Sports Illustrated should be ashamed for exploiting Harper. Are you really amazed when these kids grow up and don’t shake the hands of their opponents?