Gray clouds hung over the Las Vegas sports landscape in 2011

For every action there is a reaction.

If you were paying attention in physics class, you might recognize that as Sir Isaac Newton’s Third Law of Motion.

But Ike Newton never wrote about local sports.

If he did, he would know that for every story that makes the Review-Journal’s year-end Top 10 list, there usually is a good side and a bad side, a bright side and a dark side, a winning side and a losing side. There also is a silver lining for every gray cloud but only for the three days in February when it rains.

Bobby Thomson hits a baseball into the seats, and the Giants win the pennant. Good.

Ralph Branca throws the pitch that Thomson hits into the seats, and the Dodgers lose the pennant. Bad.

You see how this works.

This, then, is the way R-J sports columnists Ron Kantowski and Ed Graney viewed the yin and yang of the year in local sports, with Kantowski mostly focusing on the good stuff and Graney on the not-so-good stuff.

10. Marathon: Two parts hydrogen, one part oxygen, six parts crud?

Thus read the headline in The Washington Post: “Las Vegas health officials test stool samples amid claims of tainted water at marathon.”

Ah, just the sort of national buzz any self-respecting marathon director wants to hear: They’re combing through poop to verify if those water cups your volunteers handed out to 40,000 runners contained something last found flowing through the River Rhine.

Health officials ultimately disagreed with the theory that hydrant water caused hundreds of runners at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas Marathon to begin cramping and vomiting, but the public relations damage had been done.

You figure, title sponsor of the race, at least can promote a new slogan around race time next year: “More than Shoes … Now offering barf bags, too!”

9. Now judging fights in Las Vegas … Louis Braille

It is no less ridiculous more than a month later: 116-112 for Manny Pacquiao.

That’s how judge Glen Trowbridge shamefully saw Pacquiao’s majority decision over Juan Manuel Marquez.

You can expect to see a fourth matchup between the fighters next year, but it likely won’t be in Las Vegas, because the only thing Marquez would fear more than again trusting his fate to boxing judges here is drinking the same water as marathon runners.

8. Bishop Gorman football might never lose again

It’s difficult finding the negative in a high school football team becoming the first in state history to win three consecutive state titles in a large-school classification since the mid-1980s, but my email in-box doesn’t quite concur.

If I had a dollar for every message that listed (whined about) the advantages Bishop Gorman holds over public schools, I would pay off boxing judges so we get more legitimate decisions.

7. UNLV football might never win again

The good news: Southern Utah beat the Rebels 41-16, but then later topped UC Davis 34-3, meaning UNLV probably could have contended for fifth place in the Great West Conference.

The bad news: Given that Southern Utah lost to both North and South Dakota, the only Dakota that Bobby Hauck’s team could beat goes by the name Fanning, although she’s far more creative than anything the Rebels offered on offense.

For those counting, that’s a 4-21 record under Hauck.

Bring on Dakota College at Bottineau!

6. Brotherly Buffoons

Have you heard the quote about when brothers agree, no fortress is so strong as their common life?

I suppose that means Kyle and Kurt Busch agreed to the perpetual common bond of being pinheads.

One — Kyle — was caught driving 128 mph in a 45 mph zone through a neighborhood of churches and schools, later intentionally wrecked another driver and was placed on probation. The other — Kurt — made crude comments to a TV reporter after having given The Bird to a motorcade carrying Michelle Obama, ultimately losing his ride with Penske.

I wish people would stop saying the pinheads are misunderstood.

5. Fair and Balanced fight coverage

Having reached the big time of network television with a seven-year Fox contract, the Ultimate Fighting Championship debuted with a fight that lasted all of 64 seconds.

Too many of these don’t-blink-or-you’ll-miss-it nights won’t help the ratings or move the UFC brand into households where it would not normally be welcomed.

The good news is that Rick Pitino has no plans to join the UFC, because fights lasting 15 seconds really would hurt the television product.

4. Still in the rendering stage

I suppose after pigs flying and world peace occurring and politicians never again lying, Las Vegas building a new stadium is next on a list of things that never will happen.

All the bimonthly updates about lavish plans that have absolutely no chance of working are nice, but they never seem to arrive with answers to questions about how many of our tax dollars are needed to make the fantasy a reality.

One thing is certain: Billionaires who say they’re going to build a stadium and lure a professional sports franchise to Las Vegas sure talk a lot.

They just don’t say anything.

3. Tragedy hits the speedway

You never forget some pictures, and the one with Dan Wheldon posing with his wife and two small children following his win at the Indianapolis 500 always will stick with me.

It was the first thing I thought about when news came of Wheldon’s fiery crash at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Oct. 16, when the IndyCar driver was taken far too early at age 33.

2. Who’s on first, What’s on second and SDSU is in the … Big East?

San Diego State is headed to the Big East for football and the ride-the-bus-and-play-in-high-school-gyms Big West for basketball. Boise State didn’t stay in the Mountain West long enough to learn the secret handshake. Texas Christian can’t run to the Big 12 fast enough.

UNLV is staying put, whatever that means, because who in the world would want that football program?

The MWC supposedly is headed toward a merger with Conference USA, where the best football program would be Southern Mississippi.

Yeah. Good luck with all of that.

1. UNLV basketball hires the right guy … preceded by typical nonsense

While the final result was correct — Dave Rice was the best choice for UNLV all along — the search to name Lon Kruger’s successor included all the usual silly holdups.

Deep-pocketed boosters still living in 1990 tried to influence the decision. Regents with agendas did the same. The list of finalists brought to campus included names like Ernie Kent and Mike Dunlap, guys who had as much chance of getting the job as Kruger does moonlighting as a standup comedian.

Either way, Rice would say he is really, really, really, really happy to be coaching his alma mater.

Las Vegas Review-Journal sports columnist Ed Graney can be reached at or 702-383-4618. He can be heard from 3 to 5 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday on “Monsters of the Midday,” Fox Sports Radio 920 AM. Follow him on Twitter: @edgraney.


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