Sports Numbers You Need to Know

Simply the best.

Simply the best.

So in honor of Derek Jeter’s historic sendoff last night, I thought I would compile a quick list of these sports stats and numbers you often hear in bar conversations, on Sports Center, and even in rap songs (scroll to :46 for a Jay-Z reference to #5).

So here is a baker’s dozen (and just a FEW–bear with me, I’m writing this on a coaster), so please feel free to comment with other biggies.

I’m listing the numbers first for a little quiz fun, then scroll down for the answers.

Let’s go!

1 — 2

2 — 12th Man

3 — 60 feet, 6 inches

4 — 23

5 — Game 6

6 — 42

7 — 17-0

8 — 158.3

9 — 100

10 — 99

11 — 2,131

12 — 18

13 — Oh let’s go for the baker’s dozen: 1,098. Now you may scroll….


1 — Derek “Captain” Jeter, Yankees shortstop for 20 years, retiring after 2014.

2 — Slogan (with a super cool history) of Texas A&M and Seattle football (and a host of others), meaning the crowd’s noise and support as the additional team member to the 11 on the field.

3 — Distance from professional pitcher mound to home plate.

4 — Michael Jordan’s jersey number.

5 — Famous 1998 NBA Finals game between the Bulls and the Jazz; Bulls won 87–86, their sixth NBA Championship in eight years. It was also the final game with the Bulls for Jordan and coach Phil Jackson. It earned the highest TV ratings of an NBA game of all time. Jordan hit a jump shot with 5.6 seconds left to put the Bulls on top for good 87–86.

6 — Jackie Robinson’s jersey number – first African-American to play in Major League baseball.

7 — Final 1972 record of the Miami Dolphins, still the only fully undefeated NFL season.

8 — A “perfect” passer rating for a quarterback’s game. Stat is calculated using a player’s passing attempts, completions, yards, TDs and interceptions. NFL rates QBs from 0 to 158.3. College football uses a different formula and ranks from -731.6 to 1261.6. (Shrug.)

9 — Number of points Wilt Chamberlain scored in a single game in an NBA win over the Philadelphia Warriors, 169-147, on March 2, 1962. (Another key number: 20,000, the number of women he claims to have bedded.)

10 — Wayne Gretzky’s jersey number, the first ever to be retired league-wide by the NHL.

11 — Number of consecutive games played by the Oriole’s Cal Ripken to surpass Lou Gehrig’s 56-year-old record (2,130).

12 — Jack Nicklaus’ record 18 career major championships.

13 — Number of all-time wins by Tennessee women’s basketball coach Pat Summitt, before retiring in 2012 due to dementia. She is the only coach in NCAA history, and one of three college coaches overall, with at least 1,000 victories.


Why Nothing Good Happens to Black Women in Elevators

Come on, everyon knows this is how girls fight!

I didn’t mean it–everyone knows this is how girls fight, anyway!

So after a rambling on-air deconstruction of the woman’s role in the Ray Rice domestic violence case and suspension, ESPN “First Take” commentator Stephen A. Smith has been suspended himself.

While the majority of the public, including his ESPN colleagues, loudly condemned the NFL’s pitiful punishment of benching Rice (who knocked his fiancee unconscious in a casino elevator then dragged her by her hair) for only two games (guys who smoke marijuana get more), Smith used his platform to dance around then eventually land on his point: that women should avoid provoking men to attack them.

A week after he made his points, and, to be fair, several apologies, the network suspended him for a week. Whether that includes pay is unknown.

Naturally the social media universe lit up over Smith who, unlike the more jovial natures of other ESPN anchors, tends to play the “angry black man” shtick, and much to his favor–he has 2 million Twitter followers.

Meanwhile, tart-tongued badass Michelle Beadle, host of ESPN’s “SportsNation”—herself a victim of an abusive relationship—had a few things to say to her colleague via Twitter:

Twitter_MichelleDBeadle_So_I_was_just_forced_to_watch_..._-_2014-07-30_11.24.20She also tweeted that she does agree men and women can be the attackers. For example, Beyonce’s sister Solange Knowles made international news three months ago when elevator footage turned up of her attacking brother-in-law Jay-Z. It’s still unclear what the fight was about, but if that was “provocation,” Jay-Z handled it correctly by walking away.

(I’ve never been sure exactly what Solange does, but I don’t think she got suspended from it.)

So here’s the thing. I don’t think Smith meant that women are at fault for being attacked; I do think, however, his comments blabbed out from a longtime unconscious belief in men, and some women too, that women play an equal role in an abuse situation by what they wear, what they say, what they drink, or yes, even their physical actions. That by being female, we must be aware at all times of our power to seduce–sex or trouble–a belief expressed more outwardly in many other cultures in which women are closeted, under clothes or literally, at best, and persecuted or killed at worst.

In other words, sometimes our unconscious beliefs can manifest themselves into dangerous realities for those perceived physically (or mentally) smaller and weaker.

Or darker. A recent study shows that people, including medical personnel, assume black people feel less pain than white people. Why? Because they have been through more hardship.

So similarly, while on some level crediting blacks for their suffering, we use it against them in a “well they knew better” manner.

The good news, I think, is just what a ruckus this has all raised. I’m actually pleased at the comments I’ve heard from local and national commentators who came down on Roger Goodell and the NFL and didn’t take the sensationalized way out Smith did, perhaps thinking it would get him more attention.

Congrats, Stephen A. It did.

High Five Headlines: When Good Dads Go Better

Ta-daaah! And I'm a great dad too!

Ta-daaah! And I’m a great dad too!

1—San Diego Padres pitcher Odrisamer Despaigne was stopped short with only four outs to go Sunday of a no-hitter against the New York Mets. The Padres are the only active major league franchise without a “no-no.” And it would have been a feather in the cap for Cuban-born Despaigne, who defected from his difficult life less than a year ago while on a national team trip in Europe.

Also of note: the man who ended the run was none other than Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy. Daniel Murphy who was told by sports commentator Boomer Esiason in March that he shouldn’t have taken paternity leave for his first child, and that his wife should have had a C-section. Daniel Murphy the 2014 All-Star. Yeah, that Daniel Murphy. Whatever, Boo-Boo.

2–Ireland’s Rory McIlroy won the British Open wire-to-wire, but perhaps more exciting was the bet on Rory his father won for around $180,000 U.S.—and that he placed 10 years ago. Rory’s dad Gerry so believed in his son in 2004 he placed a 200-pound wager ($341) at 500-to-1 odds that his son would win the Open within 10 years. You buyin’ the pints then, Dad?

Not sure I'd want it Tweeted I just won a crap-ton of money, but we raise a Guinness to Rory!

Not sure I’d want it Tweeted I just won a crap-ton of money, but we raise a Guinness to Rory!

3—Ready to start Christmas shopping? Here are the current top-selling pro football jerseys: #1 Johnny Manziel (QB, Cleveland Browns); #2 Russell Wilson (QB, Seattle); #3 Colin Kaepernick (QB, San Francisco); #4 Peyton Manning (QB, Denver); #5 Richard Sherman (CB, Seattle). The number-six seller is St. Louis’ defensive end Michael Sam, the first openly gay man drafted by the NFL.

4—Led by Christine Sinclair’s hat trick (three goals in one match), the Portland Thorns defeated the Boston Breakers 6-3 Sunday, hoping to continue a run to win the National Women’s Soccer League championship again. They won the inaugural title first last year. The hat trick was the first in the franchise’s history.

5—If you or anyone you know has been affected by cancer, you will especially appreciate this speech by ESPN anchor Stuart Scott on receiving the “Jimmy V Perseverance Award” during the sports awards program “The ESPY’s” last week. One of ESPN’s longest-tenured anchors, you will recognize him, even if you’re not a sports fan, for his funky glasses, fun cultural references, and a slightly cocked eye, once injured while on assignment. Scott has struggled with recurring cancer and its complications since 2007, yet has carried on with strength and character. Have the tissues ready when he brings his daughter on the stage…

High Five! Warriors War with Clippers, Napoli Celebrates Happily, and a Cricketer Aces Final “Test”

1) Apparently there is some bad blood even God himself cannot overcome. The Golden State Warriors and the Los Angeles Clippers have had a grudge since last season when the Warriors took three out of four season games—and were, in the Clippers’ opinion, a little too jubilant in their celebrations. So reportedly, the Clippers wouldn’t allow the Warriors into Thursday night’s pre-game chapel service, a tradition offered by NBA arenas. The Warriors had to attend a separate service. Their luck didn’t improve on the court; despite a fight after Warriors center Andrew Bogut delivered a hard foul against Clippers center DeAndre Jordan, The Clippers won 126-115.

(Names to know: Blake Griffin is the Clippers’ power forward–you’ve seen him in these Kia commercials; Chris Paul is the Warriors’ point guard–he is “born to assist” for State Farm.)


I love you guys! Now please someone shave this beard!

2) By now you probably know the Boston Red Sox won the World Series, defeating the St. Louis Cardinals four games to two on Wednesday. What we don’t know is just what Sox first baseman Mike Napoli drank that led to this hilarious succession of photos of Napoli celebrating with his fellow fans, doing shots, even bartending a little himself (minus, eventually, his shirt. Which is fine by me.) 

3) Denver Broncos head coach John Fox will undergo aortic heart valve replacement surgery this week after he experienced lightheadedness on a Charlotte golf course Saturday. He did not have a heart attack, but tests revealed immediate need for the procedure, which doctors had already advised him he should do after this season. The Broncos had their “bye” week and were off Sunday; Fox will be out for several weeks recovering—we’ll see if 7-1 Denver can maintain its dominance in his absence. Jack Del Rio will fill in as interim coach.

Also recovering is Houston Texans coach Gary Kubiak after he collapsed at halftime of Sunday’s game against Indianapolis. He is reportedly doing well, undergoing tests for blood clots and a possible stroke. It is not certain if or when he will return. The Ladies Room wishes both coaches the best of luck!

4) Alabama remains undefeated and #1 this week in the college football rankings, but Florida State has moved to #2 after handing Miami its first loss Saturday in a highly anticipated intra-state matchup. Oregon, Ohio State, and Stanford round out the top five. Miami dropped to #11.

5) And just because it’s cool: Sachin Tendulkar has announced his retirement. Who is Sachin Tendulkar you ask? Well, the 40-year-old Indian is only considered the world’s best cricket player. Duh. Tendulkar will say goodbye to a 24-year career after he plays his 200th “test” this month against West Indies. It’s difficult to convey the meaning of the match. No cricketer has played so many. Tendulkar also owns the records for most runs and centuries in both test and one-day cricket. Tendulkar began his international career in November 1989, and was the third youngest test cricketer at the time.

Rivera Shines, ESPYs Tonight

I know we talk a lot about baseball lately – the reason is, though there is always some training camp, some trade talk, some DUI, none of America’s other major pro sports (football, basketball, hockey) are in active session right now. Even baseball is taking its annual “all-star break” this week, marking the midway point of its 162-game season.


The one time it’s OK to cheer for the Yankees.

The all-stars themselves, though, had a little extra work to do last night in the All-Star Game, which the American League won 3-0. The highlights of the night included a triple from Detroit’s Prince Fielder (let’s just say it’s fun to watch the big fella sprint) and the salute to the Yankees’ Mariano Rivera, 43, who entered to pitch his final all-star game in the 8th inning.

The Panamanian closer, who wears “42” in honor of the major leagues’ first black player, Jackie Robinson, is retiring at the end of this season. He received a lengthy standing ovation from fans and both teams, who remained in the dugouts to let him have the field and the accolades alone. He was also named the All-Star Game MVP. Rivera is a 13-time all-star, five-time World Series champ, and baseball’s leader in saves (638) and games finished (930). He is almost certain for the Hall of Fame – which says a lot since not a single player was voted in for this year.

If you do miss other sports, or just want to be entertained by host Jon Hamm, who is as funny as he is handsome on “Mad Men” (even guys will love his lunkhead lothario in “Bridesmaids”), check out the annual ESPY awards tonight on ESPN, 9 p.m. ET. Celebrities and athletes will honor one another for the best, funniest, and most courageous performances of the last year. And if you haven’t yet seen South Carolina football player Jadeveon Clowney’s mind-boggling hit (literally) on Michigan’s Vincent “I Will Never Live This Down for the Rest of My Life” Smith, here is your chance.

High Five! Murray Wins, MLB All-Stars, and Harry Potter Coaches the Celtics

America took a holiday last week, but great sports did not. Here are 5 notable news stories you can discuss with the office, the offspring, and the other half…

1) Scotsman Andy Murray defeated Serbia’s Novak Djokovic for the Wimbledon gentleman’s title Sunday in straight sets. It was Britain’s first men’s champion in 77 years (and also a great little geography lesson for the kids: countries that make up the British Empire, or “Never Refer to a Scot as an Englishman”). As for Djokovic, he has retained his world No. 1 ranking…and donkey cheese restaurants.

Red's Army fan site

Who has one finger and looks like Harry Potter? THIS NBA COACH!

2) The Boston Celtics selected a new head coach: Brad Stevens. Who? Exactly. The 36-year-old (THIRTY-SIX!!!) was previously head coach for Butler University in Indianapolis. But even with enrollment around only 4,500, Stevens established the Bulldogs as perennial NCAA Tourney contenders.

3) Baseball announced its rosters for the All-Star Game, July 16. For pitchers and final fan voting, visit

American League: Joe Mauer (C, Minnesota); Chris Davis (1B Baltimore); Robinson Cano (2B NY Yankees); Miguel Cabrera (3B Detroit); J.J. Hardy (SS Baltimore); Mike Trout (OF LA Angels); Adam Jones (OF Baltimore); Jose Bautista (OF Toronto); David Ortiz (DH Boston).

National League: Yadier Molina (C St. Louis); Joey Votto (1B Cincinnati); Brandon Phillips (2B Cincinnati); David Wright (3B NY Mets); Troy Tulowitzki (SS Colorado); Carlos Beltran ( OF St. Louis); Carlos Gonzalez (OF Colorado); Bryce Harper (OF Washington). Note there is no DH because the National League lets its pitchers bat, AS GOD INTENDED.

4) After only one season with the Lakers, controversial center Dwight Howard announced in a tweet Friday he would be joining the Houston Rockets. The respected but long-frustrated rebounder’s deal is reportedly for $88 million over the next four years, depending on his free agency.

5) Leroy Sutton and Dartanyon Crockett could have been just two more statistics from the Cleveland ghetto. Two more black teens—already facing physical disabilities—lost to crime and hopelessness. But through sports and one devoted reporter, they are seeking their futures in in college and the U.S. Paralympics team. More here in this ESPN “Outside the Lines” segment, “Why I Stayed.”

I Can Waaaave My Head–My 7-2 Head… “Up Top” with AT&Ts Basketball Big Men

Clockwise from right: Larry Bird, Bill Russell, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, and a no-name funnyman kids everywhere are happy to see get his comeuppance, "up top."

Clockwise from right: Larry Bird, Bill Russell, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, and the no-name funnyman kids everywhere are happy to see get his comeuppance, “up top.”

No doubt during tonight’s NCAA men’s championship, you’ll see the popular AT&T ads featuring a focus group leader asking schoolkids “what’s better, fast or slow?”

Except the latest group of students is taller than your average kindergartner. And certainly more…mature. So if you’re not a basketball fan, or were born after 1990, let me re-introduce you to these leggy, living legends.

Magic Johnson, 6-9, L.A. Lakers 1979-1996
I would call Earvin “Magic” Johnson, 53, a “phoenix”—someone who rises from the ashes to find success again and again—except the man never fails at anything. Be it basketball, television, philanthropy, or business (he even co-owns the Dodgers baseball team), Johnson’s charm and acumen have taken him from Lakers MVP  point guard to positive influence.

When he retired in 1991 after announcing he had contracted HIV, the world thought Johnson’s career—and possibly his life—were over. But the 1992 Dream Team Member and Hall-of-Famer returned to play again in 1996. He is now known for his HIV/AIDS advocacy almost as much as his rivalry with…

Larry Bird, 6-9, Boston Celtics 1979-1992
You wouldn’t think the great “Hick from French Lick” would ever have been bullied, but famed Celtics forward Larry Bird, 56, abandoned Indiana University after a month, tormented by homesickness and national star Kent Benson’s constant teasing. But he found his way again at Indiana State, winning numerous player of the year awards and leading the Sycamores to the 1979 national championship—only to lose to Magic Johnson’s Michigan State.

Bird was selected for the Celtics, beating Johnson for Rookie of the Year. Their rivalry breathed life into pro hoops again. They met numerous times, including three NBA finals. Still they became offcourt friends. Bird retired in 1992 with back problems but coached the Indiana Pacers NBA team from 1997-2000.

Interestingly, the next player found some revenge for Larry against good ole Kent Benson…

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, 7-2, Milwaukee Bucks/L.A. Lakers 1969-1989
Abdul-Jabbar (born Lew Alcindor), 65, was the 1977 number-one draft pick, to the Bucks. Two minutes into his very first pro game, he punched Lakers center—yes, Kent Benson—for a flagrant elbow. Abdul-Jabbar broke his hand, but Bird was probably secretly cheering.

On the other hand, Abdul-Jabbar nearly cost us the slam dunk! As a player during UCLA’s astounding 88-2 record during 1966-69, the dunk was banned from 1967-1976 in large part to then-Alcindor’s prowess. But luckily, he developed his ambidextrous “sky hook,” a nearly indefensible shot that helped him become the NBA’s all-time leading scorer, with 38,387 points (check out the sky hook—and some short shorts—here).

Abdul-Jabbar was respected for his leadership and work ethic (he played at UCLA for John Wooden, one of my 7 Classic Coaches to Know), but his disdain for the press was widely-known and cost him high-level jobs. He now works in various scouting and coaching roles.

But he wasn’t the only one to struggle with trusting outsiders…

Bill Russell, 6-10, Boston Celtics 1956-1969
The eldest statesman of this fine group, Bill Russell, 79, accomplished so much in his career the NBA Finals MVP trophy is named for him. A victim of chronic racism in his native Louisiana, he used his anger, kind words from his white coach, and a growth spurt to excel in high school after his family relocated to Oakland. His untrained style of play and lack of offense garnered him only one scholarship, to the University of San Francisco. But Russell saw the offer as chance to escape his past and dedicated his life to his game.

Racism still followed—Russell would be turned away from team hotels and denied awards he clearly deserved. While bitter, he decided not to let it define him.

In the pros, he elevated respect for defensive play, specifically shot-blocking and man-to-man defense, while helping the Celtics to win 11 championships. He was the first true African-American superstar player, and the first black NBA coach as well. For his civil rights work, he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011.

Now if these four legends aren’t enough basketball greatness for you, I guess you can tape a cheetah to your back and hope for the best. But keep an eye out for them—both in ads and live—tonight with other college basketball royalty, 9:23 p.m. ET on ESPN.