The Last Word: Recognising heroes

A combination photograph shows the painted nails of curlers while they deliver stones at the...
A combination photograph shows the painted nails of curlers while they deliver stones at the world women's curling championships in New Brunswick, Canada. Clockwise from top left: Switzerland third Irene Schori, Sweden skip Margaretha Sigfridsson,...
Players of the Mexican second division football team Celaya team pose with brown paper bags over...
Players of the Mexican second division football team Celaya team pose with brown paper bags over their heads in protest at not being paid. Photos by Reuters.

Never thought I would say this but BRAVO, Hilary Calvert.

The city councillor's suggestion to rename the road that sweeps past University Oval Brendon McCullum Drive is the most inspired idea to emerge from Dunedin HQ since the chap in the tweed jacket leaned back, took a puff from his pipe and said, ''Chaps, I'm not sure the Nonagon will catch on. Let's lop one side off the city centre''.

McCullum's triple century was so awesome - and I use that word not in the excited tones of a teenager, but with its traditional meaning - it warrants special treatment from the city.

But why stop at McCullum Drive, and Sutcliffe Street, which I presume is named after Bert?Let's have a Turner Crescent, a Henderson Boulevard, a Goldie Alley, a Shanks Road, a Bond Street (hmm, have we got one of those?), an Yvette Way, a Dame Lois Drive and a Coutts Avenue.

There's no ...
Major League Baseball season resumes this weekend, in Sydney of all places.

The decision to hold full MLB games in Australia suggests it may not be in the realms of fantasy to dream of a game played in New Zealand one day.

That would be a massive shot in the arm for the sport and its devotees down in this part of the world.

More on New Zealand baseball in a second. First, let's look at six Major League teams to watch this season.

... crying ...
• Boston Red Sox. Oh, you didn't expect me to lead off with my beloved Red Sox. Cute. The defending champions have lost the element of surprise but they retain a well-balanced team featuring plenty of hot bats, top pitching and great young talent.

• Seattle Mariners. Picked up a classy player in Robinson Cano and have ''King'' Felix Hernandez on the pitching mound.

• Los Angeles Dodgers. Many experts are tipping them for the title. Rising star Yasiel Puig, Matt Kemp, Hanley Ramirez and Andre Ethier provide the runs, and Clayton Kershaw is arguably the best pitcher in the game.

• New York Yankees. Ugh. Suppose I have to include the Evil Empire. They swooped on silky Red Sox outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury, and have picked up Japanese star Fumiaki, er, Masahiro Tanaka, rated the next great pitcher.

• Kansas City Royals. New Zealand's team? Well, they are named after that Lorde song.

• Washington Nationals. If only to watch the continued progress of young star Bryce Harper. He is seriously good.

... in baseball
Meanwhile, Baseball New Zealand continues to strive to grow the game here.

It has just announced Fred Claire, the former executive vice-president and general manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers, is to be a special adviser to our national organisation.

The New Zealand baseball championships - who knew, right? - are on in Auckland next week, and there are now about a dozen Kiwis playing collegiate baseball in the United States and Japan.

I like baseball (and softball), but the only way the sport will really take off here is if we can get a New Zealand player into the Major Leagues, and playing regularly.

Who will be baseball's Steven Adams?

Is Bod God?
For years, it was a question I always found easy to answer.

Who, if you could select one player from any other side in international rugby to join the All Blacks, would you choose?

Brian O'Driscoll. Easy.

This was not necessarily an indictment of the quality of midfielders in our own country - Conrad Smith, Ma'a Nonu, Tana Umaga, Walter Little, Frank Bunce, Joe Stanley, Bruce Robertson, Ian MacRae, Bill Davis, Bert Cooke and the great Johnny Smith are/were fair players.

It was just there was always something a bit special about Bod. So quick, so smart, so skilled.

Where does O'Driscoll rank among the great midfielders?

Probably right near the top of a bunch containing Australians Tim Horan and Jason Little, Lions greats John Dawes and Mike Gibson, French genius Philippe Sella, Englishmen Jeremy Guscott and Will Carling, Springbok immortal Danie Gerber, and Cooke, Robertson, Bunce and the Smiths from the All Blacks.

The Honey Badger
By now, you have either seen or heard about last week's post-match interview with Nick Cummins, the very interesting Force winger.

Asked by Sky presenter Melodie Robinson how he acquired the ''Honey Badger'' nickname, Cummins told a story about a documentary that featured a honey badger clawing the ''canastas'' (you work it out) off a lion.

The Fox Sports website reports previous gems from Cummins have included:''When you come into this sort of game, you've got to show the patience of the Dalai Lama initially in order to get that gig, and when it comes round be ready to strike.''

''The flamboyant French? They look all right. They have a good style about them with their hairdos. I might take a few pointers and go to a stylist to sort myself out. A few of the boys tell me I look a bit ordinary at times.''

''My old man woke me up in the morning. He was going off like a bag of cats.''

A cool billion
It is March Madness time in the United States, when the annual college basketball tournament utterly consumes the sporting media and public.

Our website (www.odt.co.nz) has a handy guide from young writer Jeff Cheshire.

In it, he mentions the ''Buffett Bracket Challenge''. Multi-squillionaire Warren Buffet has offered a billion dollars - yes, a cool billion - to anyone who correctly predicts the outcome of all 63 games in the tournament. (The ''bracket'' refers to the draw, basically.)

The Scientific American website calculated that, with each game offering two possible outcomes, there were about nine quintillion - that would be a nine with 12 zeroes - different brackets that could be created.

But the website reported Jeff Bergen, a professor of mathematics at DePaul University, had estimated there was a 1 in 128 billion chance that someone with a good amount of basketball knowledge could pick a correct bracket. Too easy.

Name of the week
The men's college basketball tournament gets all the attention, but the women's event is also massive.

And the coach of the Notre Dame women's team?Muffet McGraw.

Just brilliant.

Birthday of the week
Jockey Wilson would have been 64 today.

One of the great figures in the boom years of darts was as famous for his temper - he once whacked an official - as he was for his toothless grin.

The two-time world champion effectively became a recluse after his sudden retirement in 1995. He died in 2012.

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