By Steve Czaban Special to Published Jun 27, 2007 at 5:04 AM

Editor's note: OMC national sports columnist Steve Czaban is on vacation this week. Enjoy this classic column from Nov. 6, 2002.

Technically, as a "Big Time Sports Radio Personality" I am paid for knowing things about sports. Lots of things. Things big and things small. Things, things, things. Teams, players, rules, games, stats, leagues, strategy, history. College, pro, even high school. Semi-pro, European, intramural, you name it.

That's me, baby, the answer man!

Um ... problem is, there's a lot I don't know. I am reminded of this on a daily basis, by you, the loyal listener and e-mailer. In fact, I have been frantically trying to bone up on my squat, because that is the subject I am most often accused of knowing nothing about.

So while we are being honest here about all that I don't know, I just had to get the following unanswered questions off my chest. Some of these are from e-mailers, others are my own. Any actual answers, of course, are welcome.

What's the standard curfew for NFL players the night before a game?

Good question. Um, 3 a.m.? Till you pass out? Sometime before sun-up? My guess, is that it depends on who you are. If you are, say, Brett Favre, your curfew is "keep it reasonable." If you are a rookie free agent, your curfew is to personally tuck-in the head coach. Check your team rule sheet.

Is the "pylon" in football in-bounds or out of bounds?

This question has never been explained succinctly, party because the word "pylon" has no other application in the English language. Go ahead, use it in another context. I dare you.

Plowing ahead, I have always heard that the pylon is considered IN-bounds. Thus, if you dive for the end zone, stretch the football out and knock over the pylon - touchdown. Get your freak on.

However, I have two problems. If you look at the pylons, they are clearly resting OUT of bounds at the corners of the end zone. Why? If they are in bounds, then tuck them inside the white chalk lines. Essentially then, the "shape" of the end zone is not a simple rectangle, but a rectangle with four tiny little square "nubs" at the corner where the pylons stick out.

The other contradiction to this rule occurred this season in the NFL. Tampa Bay forced a Baltimore fumble, that bounded sideways at the goal line, bounced OFF of the pylon BEFORE going out of bounds, and came to rest INSIDE the end zone where it was recovered by Tampa. Touchdown, right? Wrong. The refs said the ball had gone out of bounds when hitting the pylon, even though the pylon is (allegedly) in bounds, and the ball never touched chalk while bouncing back into play. Confused? I am. Irate? Not enough to call my congressman, but let's get a handle on this one people.

I actually tried to find out why this call was made by asking retired NFL official Jim Tunney on my Fox Sports Radio show last month. Turns out, even he couldn't make sense of it. Oh yeah, one more "Pointless Pylon Trivia" for 500, Alex. Ever notice the 5th and 6th pylons that sit on the end line of the end zone, in line with the hash marks? What the hell are those for? PS: Why did the NFL go from using the flexible springy flags (1970s) to the dayglow orange pylons of today? Did a former player once impale himself on a rusty end zone flag? Did they once use a more neutral color (like Crayola 64 fave "Burnt Siena") before mandating the hunter's orange flavor? Stop me, please. Somebody. I could go all day on "pylons."

Who exactly makes the NBA's pre-season schedule?

I naively, thought it was the NBA itself. You know, go here, play them, these days, blah blah blah. Apparently, though, it's nothing more than a series of glorified pickup games staged by any number of third party hucksters, glee clubs and media markets ranked 150 or below. This was hammered home last month, when the Denver Nuggets "promised" the Washington Wizards $200,000 if Michael Jordan played in their pre-season game at the Pepsi Center in Denver. What is this, the Sopranos? Can you throw in a truckload of re-furbished copper pipe to sweeten the deal? Even more un-answered (if that makes any sense) is what becomes of the 200-large? Does Jordan get a cut of this "sweet action?" Does it go to charity? Wizards Christmas Party? What the hell?

It turned out, that since Jordan DID play, but announced just the day before (and did not allow the Nugs to pimp the fact MJ would appear), that the Nugs and Wiz agreed to a lesser amount than the 200G. That amount was undisclosed, and for good reason. The whole damn episode reveals how shady the NBA pre-season really is. Rules? What rules? We make them up as we go along. Hell, at least the NFL is an ORGANIZED shakedown of shameless proportions. The NBA by comparison, is like Bingo Long and the Travelling All-Stars.

If you leave an NBA bench, to join a fight between players, but the players are NOT on the court, can you get suspended?

Fortunately, this one was answered for us by Stu "The Weasel" Jackson, head of the NBA's fines and "tsk-tsk" department, just last week. The Lakers and Kings went "go-time" in the pre-season, but did so when Doug Christie got ambushed by Rick Fox in the Staples Center tussle. The Kings entire bench emptied (including Mrs. Christie) to join the fray. That should mean suspensions for everybody, right? Didn't Chris Mills once get clipped a game because he took ONE STEP on the court during a fight? Wrong. Jackson said because the Lakers and Kings created an unseemly, embarrassing episode for the league in the tunnel (and not the court) that the current rules don't apply. Yeah ... Riiiighhhht. He did say however, they would look at the wording of the rule in the near future. Yep, might wanna do that.

Why does the orange and white checkerboard at Tennessee's Neyland Stadium NOT fill the entire endzone?

This one has flummoxed me for as long as I've seen the Vols play home games on TV. It would seem, the common sense thing to do is paint up the whole end zone. Why have a cool end zone pattern, and have it fit like a shrunken Christmas sweater from your Aunt Beatrice? Did they run out of paint? Or maybe use non-union field contractors who ended up getting the size wrong? My theory (and it's only a theory) is that a smaller perceived end zone may help receivers stay in bounds better, or help motivate runners to push an extra yard further toward the goal-line than actually needed. Stop laughing, I don't hear anything better from your cake-crusher.

What's with the wide hash marks in college football?

There are too many stupid rules in college football to go over right now (like the one that says you actually have to attend some form of "class" to be eligible! Sheesh … Come on!) but why they haven't adopted the narrow hash marks, after going to the NFL standard "narrow" goal posts is beyond me. I suppose there is some long time strategy about running the "wing-T" formation to the "short side" of the field that evokes images of Red Grange in all his glory, but come on, this is the 21st century. My theory (and again, you will laugh) is that the Hash Mark Fitters and Installers Union 4601 has lobbied furiously to keep this rule on the books. That way, in all NFL stadiums which host college games, they get the sweet job of throwing down 180 extra 3 foot white lines at the cost of god-knows what while one guy does the work, and the other two lean on shovels drinking Big Gulps.

Why is the "hit and run" in baseball so misnamed? It should properly be called the "run and hit" since that is the sequence the acts occur.

Yep, another bit of intellectual laziness I suppose. How hard would it be to be truthful and call these plays a "run and hit?" Funny, because some sports have become very nit-picky on these issues. For example, almost no golf analyst on TV now calls a 3-wood a "3-wood" unless it really is made of wood. And unless my dad has somehow made it on tour, NOBODY is using actual 3-woods any more. Still, you hear announcers say "3-metal" as if Tim Finchem was standing over their shoulder ready to yank their media credentials if they slip. Personally, I'll never call my trusty 3-wood (made of course, from a composite of finely milled aircraft titanium) anything but just that. A "3-wood."

Oh yeah, one last thing while we are nitpicking. I hate it when announcers say a basketball player has made "XX trips to the line" in reference to how many free throws he has attempted. To me, a two-shot foul means one trip to the line. Would changing this little broadcasting cliché to me be more technically correct enhance anybody's life in any meaningful way? No. I'll shut up now.

Why is there no water bottle holder atop the net at NHL games?

You would think that as Americans in our "cupholder society" (going to buy a new car? Make sure it has a good cupholder!) we would have created a little something to affix the water bottles during play. Goalies get thirsty. They can't go to the bench during play. They need water bottles. Well, I suppose if women ran the NHL, we'd have water bottle holders on the top of nets. But they don't, and as guys, we just say, "eh, throw it on top. It's not gonna hurt anybody." And you know what, we're right. It doesn't hurt anybody. In fact, I get great pleasure seeing a crisply "roofed" shot pluck the water bottle clean off it's perch. My wife, if she were commish, would insist on a holder, and have it ordered via Lands End right away. I would say, "why do we need one?" She would just say, "because you can't just leave the bottle sitting on the net!" I would reply with my strongest logic: "why not?" She would say "Because you can't. Make sure to sign for the package when FedEx arrives." And that would be that.

Why do outdoor sports stadiums insist on blowing off fireworks in broad daylight?

Another colossal pet peeve (if peeves even come in the "colossal" size") in my book. All these displays do, is kick off a massive amount of sulfur laden smoke for spectators to choke on. I suppose the Fireworks Launchers Local 182 has also blocked any move by teams to say, "You know what? Daytime fireworks suck. Let's just play the game!" Don't be surprised if this story comes out someday. It is sometimes amazing how badly the staffs who administer stadium operations in the NFL miss the boat on what fans really want at a live game. For example, at Fed Ex Field the "out of town" scoreboard is woefully late on updates. I have friends who simply call buddies at home periodically to get better intel. And yeah, nobody bets on NFL games, so these scores are not in huge demand or anything by beer soaked Johnny Punchclocks at the game. Not only are the scores late and infrequent, but they include no scoring details. Again, it's not like anybody has fantasy teams or anything. If it's my stadium, I run out of town scores constantly on one of the scoreboards, with full scoring details for fantasy players. And no fireworks. Period. Nobody came to a football game to see fireworks.

"No pepper games."

Perhaps the great unanswered question of the ages. Why? Why no pepper? Such a fun diversionary little game for ballplayers of all ages. Well, actually, pepper sucks. The only guys who liked pepper were ballplayers of the 1950s who had crew cuts and listened to Buddy Holly. But still, you couldn't help but ask why major league ballparks had to spray paint in block stencil "NO PEPPER GAMES" right behind home plate. I have been offered two theories. One is that balls from a too-spirited pepper game could possibly fly out of play and hurt a fan. I reject this theory. They are, after all, professionals. Not you and your drunken dorm roommate at 1 a.m.

The other explanation is that pepper games create unsightly dead patches in the grass around home plate from players standing in one place too long. OK, I'll buy that … if pepper games lasted seveb hours! I mean, really now, I don't see Mo Vaughn of the Mets begging Robby Alomar to come out of the locker room and play a few HOURS of spirited pepper before a game, do you? Even if all the above was true, don't you think major league teams could simply send out the "No Pepper Games Behind Home Plate" memo instead of spraying it on the backstop? I liken this to the wing of an airplane where it says "NO STEP." Now let's analyze this. Does the "NO STEP" apply to me, the passenger? I can assure you, if my ass is out on the wing, I'm stepping wherever the hell I need to step (including on top of a attendant's head) in order to stay alive. And if it applies to mechanics who work on these planes (as my friend insists it does) then I ask a pertinent question: do you want to fly on a plane where the guys who repair the sensitive inner workings of it, don't even know where to step? I think not.

So there you go. My ignorance on sports, laid out like odds and ends at a garage sale. I feel much better. And you probably feel like you just wasted 10 good minutes of your life.

Steve Czaban Special to

Steve is a native Washingtonian and has worked in sports talk radio for the last 11 years. He worked at WTEM in 1993 anchoring Team Tickers before he took a full time job with national radio network One-on-One Sports.

A graduate of UC Santa Barbara, Steve has worked for WFNZ in Charlotte where his afternoon show was named "Best Radio Show." Steve continues to serve as a sports personality for WLZR in Milwaukee and does fill-in hosting for Fox Sports Radio.