THE SUMMER GAME
We're devoting almost all of this week's issue to baseball, but how could we welcome July without reminding everyone that ice hockey is scarcely a month away? That's right, hockey. Two teams of NHL All-Stars—one Canadian and one from the U.S.—have been asked to show up at training camps at the beginning of August to prepare for the six-nation Canada Cup, a rather meaningless competition created and promoted by NHL Players' Association executive director Alan Eagleson. To put it mildly, some players are less than enthusiastic.
"The other day in New York," says Edmonton's Wayne Gretzky, who has hardly had time to catch his breath since leading the Oilers to the Stanley Cup title, "a guy came up to me and said, 'Would you be interested in an NHL-Soviet series in June?' I mean, where does it end? We've got to stop playing summer hockey. We've got to think of the athletes and the fans—whether they really want this."
Eagleson clearly wants it, which suggests he's a promoter first and a union chief second. For a change, why not give players—and fans—a well-deserved rest?
July 5, 1987
LITTLE BIG MAN
While San Antonio made Navy's David Robinson the No. 1 selection in last week's NBA draft (page 22), the Bullets used their first-round pick to take 5'3" Tyrone (Muggsy) Bogues of Wake Forest. Bogues—who is a full 27 inches shorter than Bullets center Manute Bol—will become the smallest player in NBA history, stealing that honor from 5'7" Spud Webb of Atlanta and two others. Bogues was also part of another NBA first: He was one of three members of the 1983 basketball team from Baltimore's Dunbar High to be drafted in the first round, the others being Georgetown's Reggie Williams, who was taken by the Clippers, and Northeastern's Reggie Lewis, selected by the Celtics. No high school team had ever produced three No. 1 selections in the same draft. Yes, Dunbar was undefeated in 1983.
The oldest living American Olympic medalist, Abel Kiviat of Lakehurst, N.J., turned 95 last week. Kiviat, who placed second in the 1,500 meters at Stockholm in 1912, jogged a block up Fifth Avenue in Manhattan for photographers and later joked, "People always ask if I still run, how much ground I cover. But what do you expect from a 95-year-old geezer?" Actually, Kiviat is remarkably spry ("No fried foods, no salt," he explains), and New York Road Runners Club president Fred Lebow has written to the International Olympic Committee, nominating him as a torchbearer for the 1992 Summer Games in Barcelona. Says Kiviat, who will be 100 by then, "I'm going to start learning Spanish."
From comedian Jeff Cesario last week on CBS-TV's The Morning Program: "Violent, televised hockey is the chief cause of prison riots in this country. Think about it: You're a convict sitting in your cell at the federal penitentiary watching a hockey player on TV get a two-minute penalty. You're serving 17 years for the same offense."
In a Tampa Bay press release discussing the Bucs' draft choices, new coach Ray Perkins was quoted as saying that the team's No. 1 selection, Vinny Testaverde, "should be a great quarterback. And I don't use the word 'great' too many times." In the same release, Perkins noted that rookie cornerback Ricky Reynolds "has the great speed," running back Don Smith "is a great competitor" and linebacker Henry Rolling "has great movement." Of wide receiver Bruce Hill, Perkins said, "We were impressed with his great hands." As for running back Steve Bartalo, Perkins stated simply, "He is a great individual."
HOOP DE VILLE
A car dealership partly owned by the Celtics' Larry Bird is now under construction in Martinsville, Ind. When finished, the showroom will have a parquet floor with a green border and baskets at both ends.
OPEN TO ALL
Remember when golf had a handful of stars who consistently rose to the challenge of major championship tournaments? That age is fading further and further away. Counting Scott Simpson's victory in the U.S. Open two weeks ago, the last 17 majors have been won by 17 different players.
SLUSH MONEY, HUSH MONEY
A panel of Methodist bishops investigating payoffs and other rule breaking in the now-suspended football program at SMU has released a startling 48-page report on corruption at the Methodist-affiliated school. The report states that in 1985 and 1986, William Clements, then head of SMU's board of governors and now the governor of Texas, not only approved of slush-fund payments to players (an action Clements has admitted to) but also helped engineer a scheme to cover up his involvement. Clements denies involvement in any such scheme. In addition, when news of the payments began to leak out late last year, according to the bishops' report, other SMU officials agreed to pay outgoing football coach Bobby Collins $556,272, ex-athletic director Bob Hitch $246,442 and former Hitch assistant Henry Lee Parker $60,299. The report strongly implied that the large severance payments constituted hush money.
When the report was issued, NCAA director of enforcement David Berst said that further sanctions could be imposed if it were proved that high-ranking SMU officials were guilty of hitherto undiscovered violations. But later, noting that the school's dormant football program won't be resumed until 1989 at the earliest, Berst said, "To be honest, I don't know what else can be done to SMU."
The latest revelations have further undercut Clements's position as governor. Texas Attorney General Jim Mattox is looking into the possibility that Clements's actions constituted an illegal breach of his fiduciary responsibilities at SMU. Last week two state representatives formally urged the legislature to determine if impeachment proceedings against the governor are in order.
Ironically, a few days before the impeachment motion was presented, Clements signed into law a bill that makes Texas the first state in which violating NCAA rules is a civil offense. Boosters, agents and college officials who cause a Texas school to be penalized by the NCAA can now be sued by the school for any monetary damages suffered because of the sanctions. If the law had been on the books a year ago, Clements and his coconspirators might now be liable for untold thousands that SMU could lose while its football program is on probation.
AND IN THIS CORNER, HERR ROROT
The German Democratic Republic is very advanced in the use of scientific training methods for its athletes. Now the East Germans have beaten the world to the punch in the sport of boxing. Meet Der Boxroboter, a GDR-designed-and-built computerized robot that can hang in there with the best of fighters for hours on end. "It's tough to find good sparring partners, especially for heavyweights," says Dieter Seala of the GDR trade mission, which plans to market DBs internationally for a little more than $33,000 apiece. "Human sparring partners get tired after a few rounds. They get punched too many times and lose their consistency."
DB is not just a Rock 'Em Sock 'Em robot. It can be programmed to assume any fighting style—attack the upper body, go for the belly, back an opponent into a corner—and is allegedly quicker across the ring than any human boxer. DB is equally adept at throwing rights and lefts and has great wheels (literally).
Some East German boxers have been using DB for as much as 80% of their sparring. They also use the robot as a sort of high-tech replacement for the heavy bag; DB can be programmed to measure and record the force of a boxer's punches.
Sweet science, indeed.
THEY SAID IT
•Tommy John, Yankee pitcher, when asked if a pitch smacked 400 feet for a home run off him by Toronto's George Bell had been out of the strike zone: "It was after he hit it."
•Don Sutton, Angels pitcher, advising his National League counterparts on how to retire Cincinnati slugger Eric Davis: "They should use a Visine ball. It gets the Red out."
•Ron Kittle, Yankee designated hitter, joking about his salary: "I'm so poor I can't even pay attention."