ON THE EDGE
There was quite a stir last week when excerpts from New York Giants linebacker Lawrence Taylor's book, LT: Living on the Edge, were made public. The excerpts, which appear in the September issue of Sport, detail his problems with cocaine and imply that the Giants and the NFL looked the other way. "If I were Joe Blow, okay, there'd be the slammer or some midnight trip to Betty Ford's farm," writes Taylor, with coauthor David Falkner.
The fact that professional sports teams apply a double standard to the treatment of athletes abusing drugs should not come as a shock to anyone—the better you are, the more chances you get. What's disturbing about Taylor's book is that he admits he dropped out of two treatment programs, one in early 1985 and the other at the end of the '85 season, and asserts he beat drugs on his own simply by playing a lot of golf.
Dr. Arnold Washton, an expert on drug abuse who has treated many athletes, told SI's Armen Keteyian, "It sounds like [Taylor's] attitude is one of grandiosity, of having cured himself. That indicates he still has the problem. You can be abstinent without being in recovery. Recovery means changing life-style, attitude and behavior. If those things don't change, then he's doomed to relapse."
August 2, 1987
Our Australian correspondent Richard Yallop filed this report from Sydney on Friday's fight between Joe Bugner (SI, May 25) and Greg Page:
"Like the boomerang, Joe Bugner has come back. The Hungarian-born, British-raised 'Aussie Joe' has a new nationality, a new identity and a new belief at age 37 that he can become heavyweight champion.
"Before the bout the skeptical Australian public looked at Joe and his glamorous wife-manager, Marlene, and wondered whether the Bugners were doing it for the publicity or the money. Perhaps Bugner's credibility problem stemmed from people not knowing where the actor left off and the fighter began. Bugner, who still fancies a screen career, said, 'I'd like to play heroic roles, punch out the baddies." He'd also like to punch out Mike Tyson, but first he had to beat Page.
"In a special ceremony before the fight, Bugner was made an Australian citizen, and as the national song was played, Bugner waved the flag in front of the cheering crowd. Rocky Goes Down Under. Page won the first round comfortably, but after that, the gentle blond giant started bearing in on Page, who was suffering from a stuffed nose he later blamed on Australia's winter climate. Bugner nearly put Page away in the third round and again in the fourth.
"The decision was unanimous, and Bugner was exultant. He said no fight had ever given him as much satisfaction, not even his bouts with Muhammad Ali in 1973 and '75. 'At 37, I don't have a great deal of time left,' he said. 'I think I can rise to the occasion.' Page had a different opinion: 'Tyson would kill him.'
"And what did the 4,500 of us who witnessed the fight think? We had seen Joe Bugner the fighter, not the actor. We were starting to believe."
SCORE IT AN ERROR
Two Minnesota Twins, Roy Smalley and Kirby Puckett, were talking the other day when Smalley said to Puckett, "That's a Freudian slip."
"I don't know anything about a Floridian slip," said Puckett.
"No, that's what Gary Hart did," said Smalley.
GENTLY DOWN THE STREET
Ashrita Furman rowed from New York City to Philadelphia on July 17, which might not seem that remarkable except that he did it on U.S. 1. Furman, a Queens, N.Y., health food store manager who is in the Guinness Book of World Records for such unusual pursuits as marathon somersaulting and pogo-sticking under water (SCORECARD, March 2), propelled his rowing machine on wheels approximately 73 miles in just over nine hours.
As Furman began his journey on a Staten Island bridge, a policeman sang, "Row, row, row your boat..." over his car's loudspeaker. Furman's brakes did not work very well and his gears got stuck, so he had a little trouble on the hills. But all in all, he enjoyed himself. "Right at the end, I toyed with the idea of continuing on to Washington," he says. "Land-rowing could be a valid sport. I'm serious."
Why did Furman do it, besides the lure of Guinness? "I wanted to do something special for the 200th anniversary of the Constitution," he says. We're sure the Founding Fathers would have appreciated the gesture.
THE MAN IN BLUE
A New York State appeals court last week dismissed a defamation of character lawsuit brought by former American League umpire Dallas Parks against George Steinbrenner and the New York Yankees. Five years ago Parks made some controversial calls against the Yankees, and Steinbrenner lashed out at him in a press statement. In the unanimous decision, Justice Betty Weinberg Ellerin wrote, "The baseball umpire has come to expect not only verbal abuse, but in many cases physical attack as well." She also wrote, "General Douglas MacArthur is reported to have said he was proud to protect American freedoms, like the freedom to boo the umpire."
The decision, as reported in newspapers, left the impression that the court considered umpires to be semi-comic figures without the same rights as other people. What the judges did not seem to take into account is that Steinbrenner is no common fan, but rather a powerful owner who used his club's publicity machinery to mark a man as an incompetent. Unlike MacArthur, Parks did not return—he quit umpiring after the '82 season.
THE WOMAN IN BLUE
It's tough enough being an umpire, so imagine what life is like for the only female umpire in organized baseball, Pam Postema. Now working in the American Association, her fifth year in Triple A, Postema has heard her share of criticisms even though she is—by most accounts—a solid umpire.
Worse than the spoken attacks, though, are the rationalizations offered for why she will never umpire in the majors. "I don't think anybody thinks she'd fit in," Bill Cutler, her former boss as the president of the Pacific Coast League, has said. "They [umpires] run around after games. They dress together." And Dick Butler, AL president Bobby Brown's special assistant, says, "She's got to be better because she's a girl. I'm not saying it's fair. It's just the situation."
Postema wants to be judged only as an ump. Earlier this season Louisville pitcher Joe Magrane asked for a ball from Postema by calling, "Oh, Miss? Miss?" Postema replied, "Call me Blue. Nothing more. Nothing less."
'GOD, HOW HE ENJOYED PITCHING'
Don McMahon died a pitcher's death last Wednesday evening. With two minutes left in his 15-minute stint of throwing batting practice at Dodger Stadium, the 57-year-old McMahon, a special-assignments scout for the Dodgers, became dizzy, walked off the mound and knelt on the grass. Trainers Bill Buhler and Charlie Strasser helped him to the dugout step, and manager Tommy Lasorda rushed over and said, "How you doin', Mac?" McMahon replied, "I feel dizzy, Tommy. But I'm doin' all right." Then he suffered cardiac arrest, and as Lasorda held his hand and shouted, "C'mon, Mac, breathe!" the trainers administered CPR. Paramedics soon arrived and took McMahon to Queen of Angels Hospital, where he was pronounced dead 30 minutes later. Said Lasorda, "He was a tough guy, a great guy. God, how he enjoyed pitching."
McMahon, who is survived by his wife, Darlene, and their six children, was a remarkable man. He was certainly a fine relief pitcher: His 874 appearances during an 18-year career place him ninth on the alltime list. At 6'2", 215 pounds, he was a fastball-curveball pitcher who challenged hitters even when he was 44 years old. Beyond that, he was devoted to his family and to sports. Twins pitcher Bert Blyleven, a close friend who lives near the McMahons' home in Garden Grove, Calif., had him as a pitching coach in both Minnesota and Cleveland. "He was kind of like a father to me," says Blyleven. "Not only did we talk baseball during the season, we also worked out together during the winter. He loved the competition—baseball, football, basketball."
McMahon grew up in Brooklyn, and even when he was living in Ohio, he would think nothing of driving 500 miles for a touch football game in his old neighborhood. One of his teammates on the Erasmus Hall High baseball team was Al Davis, now owner of the Los Angeles Raiders. They remained close, and in later years McMahon scouted for Davis. Three and a half years ago, McMahon had a quintuple-bypass operation, but he refused to slow down. Two years ago, after McMahon was fired by the Indians, Davis suggested to Lasorda that the Dodgers, the team of McMahon's boyhood, hire him.
Said Davis, "Don was like an artist who leaves behind the work he did. He wasn't in it for profit or glory. He played baseball because he had a dream."
THEY SAID IT
•Mike Archer, the new football coach at LSU, on all the crawfish he has been eating at banquets: "My wife is telling me that if it keeps up, I'll be crawling into our house backward."
•Rick Leach, Blue Jays outfielder, on a 15-14 loss to the Yankees: "Maybe this means we'll get an Arena Football League team."