Some recent news items in sports worthy of comment while wondering why the rest of baseball doesn't turn on the Yankees:
ITEM: JoePa signs extension.
I was driving on a Sunday morning earlier in the football season when one of the ESPN Radio talking heads, John Kincade, was conducting a discussion on the most powerful figure in sports.
Kincade was pushing Nick Saban but, in listing a few others including Bobby Bowden, failed to mention the obvious choice: Joe Paterno.
Who else could ward off a university posse in 2004, after four losing seasons in five years, by squeezing a four-year extension and now, as further reinforcement, another three-year contract through 2011?
Who else, at soon to be age 82, could do this without even having to name an associate head coach?
I have mixed emotions about Paterno's new arrangement, open ended in that it gives both sides the opportunity to change their minds before or beyond 2011. I want to see him go out on top or near the top.
He wanted a chance, at age 78, to bring the program back, and he's surely done that. To that end, this was - and still is - a chance to exit on a high, not to mention providing a succession opportunity for someone on his staff, like Tom Bradley.
On the other hand, Paterno remains mentally as sharp as ever and is a treasure all of us should enjoy as long as he wants to continue.
The guess here is matching his desire to continue three more years is his desire to squelch speculation and make the decision on his terms.
It will be interesting to see if Bradley stays or eventually surrenders, like Jerry Sandusky and Fran Ganter before him, and whether the rest of the staff is willing to hang in there.
And if JoePa is still coaching in 2011, whether school president Graham Spanier, despite his own five-year contract, is still standing.
ITEM: Sam Bradford wins Heisman.
Oklahoma's quarterback, like fellow finalists Tim Tebow and Colt McCoy, was a worthy choice.
What's especially neat about this award - the most prestigious individual honor in all of sports - is the winner's reaction to it.
Because it's a surprise, it typically takes the breath away from the recipient.
In tracing all those who influenced him, beginning with his parents, Bradford showed the same poise in his acceptance as he did on the field.
ITEM: Bowl lineups set.
I've scoured the smorgasbord of 34 games and don't see anything better than Virginia Tech (+2) over Cincinnati in the Orange Bowl.
That's bad news for Hokies fans.
ITEM: 'Tis the season.
With Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa upon us, if you're looking for a last-minute gift, consider the book of colleague John Mehno, whose "Best Pittsburgh Sports Arguments" ($14.95), is a fun read and showcases Mehno's extraordinary fact-gathering, listening skills and storytelling ability.
Rudel can be reached at 946-7527 or firstname.lastname@example.org.