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Wednesday, September 17, 2014
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Published: Friday, 7/7/2006

Gwynns have father-son relationship that's been a big hit

Cleaning out the notebook:

Tony Gwynn Jr. never tires of talking about his famous father.

People frequently ask about his dad, whether it be at the mall or in the locker room.

Tony, a 15-time All-Star, eight-time National League batting champion and a member of the exclusive 3,000-hit club, is a sure-fire Hall of Famer next year, along with Cal Ripken Jr.

"I love talking about my father," Tony Jr. told reporters recently.

"It comes with the territory. It's not something I dislike by any means. Everybody doesn't have a good relationship with their father, but we have a great one."

Tony Jr., the leadoff hitter and center fielder for the Nashville Sounds, will start for the Pacific Coast League in next week's Triple-A All-Star Game at Fifth Third Field.

Gwynn, 23, has a knack for hitting, just like his dad. Tony Jr. was batting .300 in 81 games through Wednesday.

However, that's where the comparisons end.

At 6-feet, 185 pounds, the younger Gwynn is much lighter than his husky father, who coached his son at San Diego State after his legendary 20-year career ended with the Padres.

The next goal for Tony Jr., a second-round pick of the Milwaukee Brewers in 2003 who has sprinter's speed, is to make it to the big leagues.

When that call comes, you can bet the first person he will dial up is his dad.

It's funny how things turn out.

Detroit Red Wings icon Steve Yzerman, who retired at age 41 earlier this week after a brilliant 22-season career, wasn't the guy the team really wanted in the 1983 NHL entry draft.

Jim Devellano, then the Wings' GM, selected Yzerman with the fourth overall pick, but only after the player he coveted - Pat LaFontaine - was taken third by the New York Islanders.

Yzerman, 18, surprised everyone in the organization and proved to be the star of camp. He scored 39 goals that season, a franchise record for a rookie, and was the youngest player to ever play in an All-Star Game.

Three seasons later he was named captain and served in that role for 19 seasons, an NHL record.

Yzerman, a 10-time All-Star, ranks eighth on the all-time list in goals (692) and seventh in assists (1,063). He led Detroit to three Stanley Cups and the best record in hockey over the past decade.

Yzerman, once an after-thought, got the last laugh.

w●

Division I college basketball coaches were interested in making the Big Dance even bigger, expanding the NCAA tournament field from 65 teams to 128.

Say what?

At least the NCAA men's basketball committee had the good sense to shoot down the silly proposal last week. It also voted down a more modest offer that would have added fewer than eight teams to the bracket and increased the number of opening-round games in Dayton.

Basketball coaches are quick to point out that there are 28 bowl games in football, meaning 56 of 117 Division I teams qualify for postseason play.

Under the current system in basketball, 105 of 334 men's teams - 65 in the NCAA field, 40 in the NIT - reach the postseason.

Maybe March Madness will eventually expand, but nearly doubling the size of the field would be insane.

It would dilute what is the best tournament of any kind, college or pro.



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