Looking out for No. 1

Times Staff Writer

It’s probably good that the NCAA tournament ends today, because our nation’s columnists have become obsessively enamored.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but it has gotten weird.

The Chicago Tribune’s Mike Downey, for example, wrote of the Final Four, before Saturday’s games:


“Like a beauty pageant, this one could have a winner and three very worthy and drop-dead gorgeous runner-ups. Let’s just hope that all four contestants are as hot as they look.”

And of Memphis guard Derrick Rose, Chicago Sun-Times columnist Jay Mariotti, after the Tigers beat UCLA, gushed:

“Try as we do to focus on talented mates such as Chris Douglas-Roberts, who was terrific with 28 points, I can’t take my eye off of Rose.”

Come to think of it, maybe this is just a Chicago thing.

Trivia time

Only four golfers have posted wire-to-wire victories at the Masters. Who were they?

Seeing is bee-leaving

Imagine the drama during a weekend marathon in Japan, when a cloud of bees swarmed upon 3,200 runners and began to sting them.

“I have never experienced anything like this before,” rescuer Tomomi Koyanag told Australia’s

One runner said several bees got into his shirt. Five ambulances were dispatched and 30 runners were briefly hospitalized.

Who won the race? Who cares. The bigger question is, when will this appear on YouTube?

One broken Brave

Some athletes are plagued with injuries, and then there’s Atlanta Braves pitcher Mike Hampton, who has been on the disabled list seven times and has undergone two major surgeries since 2005.

Hampton, to no one’s surprise, injured himself in practice and missed his scheduled start Thursday, so Jeff Schultz of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution pondered:

“If you’re Hampton, what’s keeping you from throwing in the towel? I mean, except maybe the fear of a torn rotator cuff.”

Title this one ‘Knuckleheads’

In the 1920s-era movie “Leatherheads,” Renee Zellweger plays a reporter assigned to cover war hero/college star Carter “Bullet” Rutherford’s pro football debut.

This prompted Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Pohla Smith to recall breaking into the male-dominated sportswriting business during the early 1970s.

She was not allowed into the Steelers’ locker room but was allowed to interview players as they walked out.

The system worked, she wrote, “except the day quarterback Terry Bradshaw took my notebook, autographed a sheet of it, and handed it back to me.”

Caution flag

These are hard times even for NASCAR teams trying to lure sponsors.

Yates Racing’s No. 28 car . . . Bill Davis Racing’s No. 27 car . . . . . . un-sponsored.

Writes Mike Smith of the Las Vegas Sun: “It’s disturbing to see teams that have been the foundation of the sport facing the possibility of having to stand on the street corner holding a ‘Will Drive for Food’ sign.”

Trivia answer

Craig Wood in 1941, Arnold Palmer in 1960, Jack Nicklaus in 1972 and Raymond Floyd in 1976.

And finally

Shaquille O’Neal, to the Orlando Sentinel on the Phoenix Suns’ chances of winning the NBA title, now that he’s their center:

“I can’t do some of the things I once did. I can’t get the numbers I did. Every 36-year-old goes through the same thing. But remember, I’m still the baddest 36-year-old guy out there, and that’s going to be enough.”