John Walters
Tuesday February 15th, 2005


1. Our University of Arizona stringer, James Kelley, informs us that Wildcat baseball coach Andy Lopez missed the first few innings of his team's season-opening 9-0 win against New Mexico. Lopez was sitting in his office watching a 90-minute NCAA-mandated DVD on mechanics and new rules that had arrived in his mailbox 45 minutes before the game's 4 p.m. start. Lopez said that the school had ordered the DVD three weeks earlier.

Lopez, who has led three different schools (Pepperdine, Florida and Arizona) to the College World Series and won national championships with the first two, was less than pleased. "I guess that UCLA education and 28 years of coaching doesn't count for much with the NCAA," said Lopez after starting pitcher John Meloan one-hit the Lobos. "The innings I saw were pretty good."

2. Speaking of movies watched, I caught Finding Neverland on Friday night. Wow. What a total Linda Richman, I'm verklempt-fest. I have never heard that much sniffling outside of a pediatrician's office. Even sportswriters were welling up (not me, man, I was totally cool; Why don't they dust those theaters?).

Three of my favorite heartbreaking scenes:

• Peter (Freddie Highmore): "It's magical. Thank you." J.M. Barrie (Johnny Depp): "No, thank you, Peter. Thank you."

• When Emma (Julie Christie) responds to Peter Pan's request with a passionate hand clap ... and honestly, I never thought I'd write the words "Julie Christie", "passionate" and "clap" in the same sentence and it not be pertaining to the film Shampoo.

• The walk-off shot of Sylvia Llewelyn Davies (Kate Winslet), as she glides into Neverland

3. From our Cornell stringer, Matthew W. Janiga: Cornell senior basketball forward Cody Toppert was recently quoted in the The Cornell Daily Sun as saying, "All of our players are well-rounded in all fascists of the game."

Talk about Big Red. A check of the tape later showed that Toppert actually said "facets," but was misquoted.

4. Geogia Tech's campus has a running loop that envelops much of the campus. The loop covers a unique but perfectly appropriate, for the engineering-addled student body, distance: 3.14 miles. Some distances are cake, but Tech's, it seems, is Pi. (Thanks to Georgia Tech stringer Kimberly Rieck.)

5. Congratulations to Indiana milers and twins Sean and John Jefferson. The Jeffersons moved on up to the front of the pack at the Meyo Invitational at Notre Dame recently and became the first twins to eclipse the four-minute barrier in the same race. Sean ran a 3:56.44 and John a 3:57.85. Sean-John (shouldn't P. Diddy throw them an endorsement deal soon?) became the 4th pair of twins to each break a four-minute mile, but the first to do so, as I said, in the same race. Thanks to IU stringer Joshua Michael Weinfuss for this one.

6. Gotta love Minnesota basketball coach Dan Monson. Taking a cue from Illinois' "Orange Krush," Monson implored Golden Gopher fans to sport gold T-shirts for a recent game against Wisconsin to show fan unity. Then Monson decided to don a gold blazer, but realized he didn't own one. What did he do? He borrowed one from a local Century 21 real estate agency. Monson wore the blazer -- its patch still affixed to the breast pocket -- on the sideline during Minnesota's 60-50 upset of the then-No. 19 Badgers.

7. Christo, Christo, Christo. I went for a run in Central Park on Saturday and thought I'd happened upon a grand opening for a Home Depot. Christo's display "The Gates" -- 7,500 gates on which giant orange flags are draped -- debuted here in New York on Saturday. Christo, do whatever you want (it's your $21 million), and I'm all for gawking at people who in turn are gawking at giant orange flags and trying to say something important about it. Just want to remind everyone that Central Park is already equipped with thousands of structures that produce brilliant colors. They're called "trees."

8. Look at new Notre Dame football coach Charlie Weis, he of the three Super Bowl rings, talkin' smack: "They've had the advantage in recruiting because I came in late," Weis said recently, referring to the competition. "Now it's Xs and Os. Let's see who has the advantage now." You go, Charlie!

9. (Big Ten version of "Eight in the Box") Okay, I'm jaded, but is "tsunami relief" beginning to replace "world peace" as the most trite phrase you hear on TV these days? I heard it so much on the Grammys that I began to wonder if college kids in dorms had turned it into a drinking game. Please, give money. And time, if you can. But listen, Mr. Joe Entertainer, stop stuffing the issue down our gobs. Why can't you just be like Angelina Jolie and quietly travel the globe on international aid missions when not breaking up Hollywood marriages or getting tattoos?

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