We had some good chats this year. Here are few of the more memorable exchanges.
Jimmy Rollins (July 14)
DP: What's the strangest thing you've thought out there at shortstop?
JR: Sometimes I look up in the sky, and I'm like, it would be nice to be barbecuing right now. But then I remember, it's pretty fun to be playing baseball. Somebody has to entertain the people.
Charles Barkley (Oct. 13)
DP: Do you think Manny Ramirez's hairdo is too tight and squeezes the brain a bit?
CB: I think when a guy can hit like that, you let him do what he wants to do. In college I played with a guy, he smoked pot all the time. He was a really good player. They tried to get him to stop smoking pot one time, and he couldn't make a shot. We went to the coaches and said, "Please get this boy his pot. He can't make a shot without it."
Tito Ortiz (June 16)
DP: How long, if you wanted me unconscious?
DP: Eleven seconds.
DP: What if I threw a shoe at you?
DP: Eleven seconds.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. (Sept. 22)
DP: You had a bumping incident with Kyle Busch. Do you and he talk about what happened?
DE: No. We got a pretty good understanding that we don't really like each other that much.
Pete Rose (June 9)
DP: What's worse, betting on your team or using performance-enhancing drugs?
PR: I don't think there's any question using drugs is worse. I was absolutely wrong, but when you bet on your team to win, what do you do? You do everything in your power to win the game.
George Clooney (April 14)
DP: Your bio on IMDB says, "Failed to join the Cincinnati Reds."
GC: "Failed to get past the first cut," I believe, would be the better phrase. Or "Lacked skill." It was a minor league pitcher throwing moderate speed curveballs, and I'm stepping in the bucket. Just a nightmare.
Bruce Jenner (Aug. 25)
DP: Is Michael Phelps the world's greatest athlete?
BJ: No. He's the world's greatest swimmer.
DP: If I said, Let me train Kobe or Jordan to be a decathlete....
BJ: They'd die. They couldn't do it. They'd train eight hours a day in virtual isolation, there'd be no hype, no nothing.
Fancy Ways to Break the Plane
THE SANTONIO HOLMES did-he-or-didn't-he controversy at the end of the Ravens-Steelers game in Week 15 shows that football is no longer a game of inches; it's a game of pixels. But sometimes TV replay isn't good enough. Here are a few potential improvements for goal line technology:
• PYLON CAM The best angle possible.
• A SENSOR IN THE BALL Adidas developed a soccer ball with a microchip, but FIFA inexplicably won't use it.
• GPS-ENABLED BALL Bonus: Take the ball to a pickup game, and you'll never get lost on the way home.
• AN ELECTRIC DOG FENCE on the goal line. Might have trouble getting the players' association to sign off on it.
• EXPLODING DYE PACKS If they can make a dye pack explode when it leaves a bank, they can make it explode when it enters the end zone.
Jocks and Awe
IT'S NICE to know that even stars get nervous around their idols. Before the 1992 Olympics, Chris Webber was one of the players on a practice squad that provided opposition for the Dream Team. He shared a limo from the airport in Barcelona with Larry Bird. "I was shaking, calling him Mr. Bird," Webber said. "He was very nice. It was a 10-minute car ride. I said, 'It was nice meeting you.' He was like, 'Yeah, you can grab my bag.'?" Webber left with more than just memories: "I got autographs, I stole socks out of their bags, I took everything, even jockstraps. I took one of Charles Barkley's shoes. I was just a kid in a wonderland."
For Love or Money
THE ARGUMENT for LeBron James staying with the Cavs is that he'll get to keep playing in a city that loves him. Does that matter? Jim Brown, who played his entire career with the Browns, would know: "LeBron should be careful because you might get what you ask for—more money. And then you have to hope that money will bring you happiness. Sometimes you sacrifice money so you can have quality of life. That young man is respected and loved in that city. If I were his agent, I would point out how fortunate he is."
THE FINE PRINT: Tough times for Evander Holyfield. First he loses to Nikolai Valuev, then the Nevada State Boxing Commission gives him 90 days to develop a grill.
Go to DANPATRICK.COM for more interviews, and hear live audio of Dan's radio show, 9 a.m. to noon ET, Mon.-Fri.
ILLUSTRATION BY KEITH WITMER
BRAD MANGIN (ROLLINS)
STEVE GRANITZ/WIREIMAGE/GETTY IMAGES (CLOONEY)
JOHN PYLE/CAL SPORT MEDIA (ORTIZ)
JIM MCISAAC/GETTY IMAGES (HOLMES)
ROCKY WIDNER/NBAE/GETTY IMAGES (WEBBER)