TV OR NOT TV?
In an article entitled "Shape Up...While Watching Your Favorite Show," in the July 11-17 issue of TV Guide, George Allen, the chairman of the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, presents a series of exercises for young couch potatoes. "The physical fitness of our youngsters hasn't improved in the last 10 years—and in many cases has gotten worse," writes Allen, who, with modeling assistance from Tempestt Bledsoe and Malcolm-Jamal Warner of The Cosby Show, then offers a 30-minute workout. Included in the exercises are the TV Viewer's Leg Lift and the Book Curl, with the latter described thus: "Hold a book about the size of a school textbook in your hand, palm toward ceiling. Sit up straight and lower the book until your arm hangs straight. Raise the book toward your shoulder and lower. Repeat 10 times and then switch hands. Do twice on each side."
While Allen's effort to reach America's youth is commendable, it does seem to say, If you can't beat 'em, join 'em. Perhaps he should encourage kids to 1) push down on the power button of the remote control; 2) walk outside and jog to the nearest library; 3) lift a volume of The Complete Works of William Shakespeare off the shelf; and 4) open it to The Two Gentlemen of Verona, Act I, Scene 1. In the opening speech by Valentine are these words:
I rather would entreat thy company
To see the wonders of the world abroad
Than, living dully sluggardiz'd at home,
Wear out thy youth with shapeless idleness.
NO FRENCH TOAST, EITHER
Irving Rudd, the veteran sports publicist, reported last week from Granbury, Texas (pop. 5,100), where Donald Curry was training for his July 18 title bout with WBA junior middle-weight champion Mike McCallum: "I sat down for breakfast at the Around The Clock Grill and ordered a toasted English muffin, no butter. The waitress told me, 'We don't serve no foreign food here, sir.' "
What took Henry Aaron 23 years to accomplish, Mike Macenko may do in one season. Macenko is the 6'3", 260-pound second baseman for Steele's Sports of Grafton, Ohio, the fence-busting slo-pitch softball team (SI, July 28, 1986) that travels the land, terrorizing opponents. As of Sunday, Macenko had 547 home runs (gulp), and at his current pace of 2.4 homers a game, he should be approaching Aaron's career mark of 755 sometime in early September.
Macenko has already broken the unofficial slo-pitch softball home run record of 503 for a season, set by his teammate Charles Wright last year, and Mike's 1,016 RBIs this year (gasp) are also a record of sorts. His finest hour came in a double-header at Lorain, Ohio, when he kissed 15 balls goodbye (gosh). Over one nine-day stretch, Macenko hit 81 homers in 20 games. He's also batting .748, almost three times his weight.
The men of Steele's, meanwhile, are tooling along with a record of 218-9 and a scoring average of 36.4 runs a game. Even by Steele's inflationary standards, Macenko is having a remarkable year. His homers have not only been plentiful, but long; one ball he hit in Las Vegas went 508 feet.
Macenko says of his newfound prowess, "I just decided to put the old nose to the grindstone. I lifted weights, got married and stopped partying. I wish I could tell you something like, The ball looks as big as a grapefruit coming up to the plate, but actually the ball is as big as a grapefruit."
When the tennis players entered the locker rooms at the recent Wimbledon championships, they found this sign waiting for them:
DEFENSE DE CRACHER!
It seems that spitting, a fairly recent phenomenon among players, was rubbing the Wimbledon hierarchy the wrong way—it doesn't go well with strawberries and cream—so they put up the sign over a message from R.E.H. Hadingham, better known as Buzzer, the chairman of the Committee of Management of the Championships. "I have received dozens of letters from the general public on the subject of spitting," read the note. "It is perhaps not realized that this is seen in close-up on TV. May I ask you therefore please not to spit on court. Your cooperation is much appreciated."
Did the players heed the warning?
"If you look at Mikael Pernfors [the Swedish victim of Jimmy Connors's heroic fourth round comeback], the answer is no," said Sue Youngman, official spokesperson for the All England Club. "He did nothing but spit the entire tournament."
Another obvious spitter was Pernfors's countryman Mats Wilander, leading us to suggest SPOTTNING EJ TILL‚Äö√†√∂‚àö√±TEN be added to next year's message.
SAY IT AIN'T SO, BO
Bo Jackson, the former Heisman Trophy winner and current Kansas City Royals leftfielder, now wants to play pro football for the Los Angeles Raiders after the baseball season is over. "My number one priority is the Royals," said Jackson, who was batting .254 with 18 home runs and 45 RBIs as of Sunday. "Anything else I do after the baseball season is a hobby, just like hunting and fishing."
Jackson's change of heart, coming just as the pennant races are taking shape, was not met with enthusiasm by his teammates. Willie Wilson, who chose baseball over a promising football career, said, "A hobby? You think it's a hobby for Lawrence Taylor when he tackles you?"
The Royals have acceded to Jackson's request because they desperately want to hang onto an outfielder of immense promise. But in this day and these times, no athlete—even one as talented as Jackson—can juggle two such overlapping, all-consuming sports. Ask Danny Ainge or John El-way or Kirk McCaskill. Jackson must make a decision, or else he's cheating the Royals, the Raiders and himself.
It's interesting to note that of the 50 major leaguers who have played pro football, only Chuck Dressen and Pepper Martin distinguished themselves in baseball. And no athlete has pulled off that double since Tom Brown, a first baseman-outfielder with the Washington Senators in '63 before becoming a defensive back for the Packers and Redskins from '64 to '69.
Whoever said you can never be too thin or too rich must have been playing the PGA Tour at the time. Last year, 6'4", 180-pound Bob Tway won $652,780 on the Tour. Now comes this year's model, Paul Azinger, who at 6'2", 170 pounds is fast becoming the world's skinniest bank vault. Azinger is a no-nonsense, religious fellow who says that money is only "temporary happiness " Well, he figures to be temporarily very happy for a while Mr Amazinger, or Zinger as he's known on the Tour, has already won $586,962 and three tournaments and it's only the middle of July.
Arnold Palmer took over 13 years to win a million dollars, but Azinger could take home that much in one swell swoop this year. Of course, what with Tour purses going up faster than the yen, money shouldn't impress you. What should impress you is that Azinger, 27, has won coming from behind (at the Phoenix Open in January), from ahead (the Greater Hartford Open in June) and from out of the blue (he made an eagle on the 18th hole at the Las Vegas Invitational in May). What's more, Azinger had never won a PGA tournament until this year.
Of course, until this year Azinger hadn't won much of anything. It was only nine years ago that he was a high school senior, pumping gas and scraping and painting boats at his father's marina in Sarasota, Fla. Back then he was unable to consistently break 40 for nine holes. Even after he got serious about golf, there were tough times. He had the unhappy distinction of going through qualifying school three times—he lost his Tour card in 1982 because, ironically, he didn't make enough money. He was 144th on the '84 money list, 93rd in '85 and 29th last year.
But now Azinger is the Tour's new leading man, though he might do well to watch his back. Tom Watson won three tournaments in 1984 and hasn't won any since. Curtis Strange won three tournaments in 1985 and two since. Tway won four last year and none since. Azinger might be right, after all, about temporary happiness.
THEY SAID IT
•Bill Lee, former major league pitcher and noted flake, on the new orange roof in Montreal's Olympic Stadium: "It looks like the same thing George Scott wore around his waist when he was trying to lose weight."
•Steve Young. San Francisco 49ers quarterback, formerly of the Tampa Bay Bucs and the USFL's Los Angeles Express, on why he was attending the showing of the 49ers' highlights film: "This is the first time I've played for a team that had a highlight film."