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SportsColumnistsNeil Best

The Best of Neil's Watchdog

Cheever slams Danica for 'childish tantrum'

It is difficult to convey to sports fans under 30 how big the Indianapolis 500 was in olden times. But big it was.

(I paid to see the '71 race in a theater on closed circuit. Well, actually, my mother paid. Then she left me there. Alone. I was 10.)

Today's race does have one thing going for it to draw casual fans, though, as ABC carries it for the 46th year: Danica Patrick.

Ms. Patrick, who finished third in last year's Indy 500, created a stir last week when she was booed after complaining about her car's setup for today's race.

About which ABC analyst Eddie Cheever said: "I think it was a childish tantrum that she'll get over in a hurry. The beautiful thing about racing is you can go from being the village idiot to the world champion in one afternoon.''

ABC/ESPN VP Rich Feinberg acknowledged there will be extra focus on Patrick:

"Our job is to balance that story with all the others but make sure we feed that curiosity factor in hope of building a larger fan base and bringing people to other IndyCar telecasts down the road.''

Pork chomper hams it up on YES

It was among the most memorable, hilarious and, as YES' Kim Jones said, "revolting'' moments in the history of in-game, televised sports reports:

Thursday night, a fellow in a Yankees jersey with a beer in one hand and a small broom in the other took a bite out of a pork chop Jones was holding as she described concession options at Target Field.

Jones didn't notice at first, but YES cameras caught him in the act, and a video hit was born.

(Classic line from Jones: "If you go away, you can have my pork chop.")

YES' Michael Kay and Jones handled the incident with the proper mix of disgust and amusement. The only shame is it will provide ammunition to those who find such reports intrusive and distracting.

Sorry, I don't buy it. When done by reporters who provide insight and humor and who don't overly, um, ham it up, they are a welcome change of pace.

Super hype for Super Bowl XLVIII

Even for those of us who think putting the 2014 Super Bowl in East Rutherford is a good idea, some of the hyperbolic claims that accompanied the New York/New Jersey bid were a bit much.

For example: It was baffling two weeks before the start of the World Cup to hear the Super Bowl repeatedly referred to as the biggest sports event on Earth.

Then there was the oft-reported economic impact estimate for the host city of $550 million, a figure dismissed by most economists as wildly inflated.

One of them is Smith College's Andrew Zimbalist, who also laughed off the notion the event will promote the metropolitan area as a tourist destination.

"I think it will put New York on the map,'' he said, sarcastically. "People generally have never heard of New York. You might even get a few tourists."

So might the impact be greater in a lesser city such as Tampa? "I don't believe it for any city,'' he said. "It's a silly notion that people hadn't heard of Tampa before the Super Bowl was played there."

Pussycat Doll scratches past Evan, Erin

After five victories in the previous seven seasons, the sports world got shut out on "Dancing With the Stars,'' even after placing two people among the three finalists - figure skater Evan Lysacek and ESPN's Erin Andrews.

Oh, well. Heck of a run by Andrews (whose next big gig is next week's National Spelling Bee) and a well-earned victory for Nicole Scherzinger, whose only sports connection appears to be dating auto racer Lewis Hamilton.

Rangers are punched, punch back

Tuesday's episode of the new show "MSG Countdown'' is entitled "Rangers Fights, Brawls & Melees,'' and that's exactly what it is.

No interviews, no narration other than the live calls, no context other than dates and participants - just 25 brawls, not all of which feature a Ranger getting the upper hand, by the way.

I won't tell you which was No. 1, but I will tell you my favorite:

The goaltender throwdown in 1998 in which the Rangers' Dan Cloutier mercilessly pummeled Tommy Salo of the Islanders, then attempted to take on the entire Islanders bench. Oh baby!

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