Something about Las Vegas has led to it producing brash, young superstars.
Kurt Busch was 25 and in his third year in NASCAR when he began to rile fans. A disagreement with veteran Jimmy Spencer led to Spencer sucker punching Busch after a race. Busch went on to win the Sprint Cup title the next year.
Kurt’s brother, Kyle, followed into NASCAR at age 18 and irritated fans by winning a lot, smashing a guitar trophy after a victory and most recently by getting caught going 128 mph in a 45 mph zone near his home in North Carolina. He has won 97 NASCAR races.
Kurt is 32, Kyle 26.
The combination of extraordinary talent and brazen behavior has now become a Southern Nevada trilogy.
Former Las Vegas High and College of Southern Nevada sensation Bryce Harper, 18, was last year’s No. 1 pick in the Major League Baseball draft and is the fastest rising star for the Washington Nationals, playing in the Class-A South Atlantic League.
The Las Vegas Review-Journal had a glowing story in Tuesday’s edition about what Harper has accomplished — .342 average, 14 home runs, 42 RBIs — through 56 games for the Hagerstown (Md.) Suns, while also noting areas in which he needs to improve.
One item was omitted from the story but featured extensively Tuesday morning on ESPN’s “SportsCenter” and later on ESPN2’s “First Take.”
“On Monday night, Harper showed his immature side, puckering a kiss toward the pitcher while rounding the bases after hitting a home run against Greensboro,” The Associated Press reported. “That’s the type of behavior that will get him beaned in the majors — as perhaps in the minors as well. The first pitch in his next at-bat was a brushback, high and inside.”
Hall of Fame third baseman Mike Schmidt said on “SportsCenter” he was disappointed by Harper’s antics and stated he needs to “tone it down and play the game.”
Before Harper makes it to the majors, he should give the Busch boys a call for advice on never getting a second chance to make a first impression.
■ MAKE LOVE, NOT WAR — A college in Goshen, Ind., has taken “The Star-Spangled Banner” off its playlist.
Goshen College’s board of directors says it will find an alternative that honors the country and the Mennonite Church-affiliated school’s pacifist traditions.
The 1,000-student college began playing an instrumental version of the national anthem last year and followed it by a peace prayer before games and other events. Some at the school were upset with the decision because the song’s lyrics contain references to using war and military might to defend the country.
■ VESTED INTEREST — Fans of Michigan Wolverines football can celebrate the resignation of Ohio State coach Jim Tressel with a maize and blue T-shirt being sold at SportsCrack.com, reports TheMatadorSports.com.
The front is emblazoned with “Vest in Peace” on a tombstone. The back proclaims “Tressel: Dotting the ‘i’ in Liar.”
More than a few will be worn in Ann Arbor, Mich., on Nov. 26 when the Wolverines host the Buckeyes.
COMPILED BY JEFF WOLF
LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL