The Tonawanda (N.Y.) Cardinals of the Niagara Youth Football League (ages 11 and 12) staged a mock work stoppage last week. Their demands: a dollar per game, more water during timeouts, extra oranges at halftime and pizza after every game. "There's a chance we'll field a substitute team," said assistant coach Chris McMahon, "but these guys have said if a scab team comes around, they're going to deflate their bicycle tires."
MORE STRIKING TRIVIA
Gary Myers, columnist for The Dallas Morning News, is collecting NFL strike team nicknames. So far he has come up with the San Francisco Phoney-Niners, the Cleveland Clowns, the Dullest Cowboys, the Buffalo Counterfeit Bills, the New Orleans St. Elsewheres, the Chicago Bearlies and the Los Angeles Shams and Masque-raiders. He is open to suggestions.
The $250,000 fine levied by baseball commissioner Peter Ueberroth against the Texas Rangers for prematurely recalling relief pitcher Steve Howe, who has had a history of drug abuse, makes little sense. The fine, which was presumably intended as a statement against drugs and as a message to all not to cross the commissioner, instead created sympathy for Howe and forged an unlikely alliance against Ueberroth between the Rangers and the players' union.
October 4, 1987
The commissioner's office says that a club must wait "a reasonable amount of time" before calling up a player who is known to have abused drugs. The Rangers signed Howe on July 12 and sent him to their Oklahoma City farm team. Before they recalled him on Aug. 6, 25 days later, owner Eddie Chiles and president Mike Stone flew to New York to inform Ueberroth of their intentions. They carried with them documented evidence that Howe was clean. According to sources in the Ranger organization, Ueberroth asked the team to wait until Sept. 1 before recalling Howe. In effect, Ueberroth was saying that 49 days was a reasonable amount of time and 25 was not. The Rangers defied him.
The Montreal Expos (page 28) may wish they had done the same in the case of Pascual Perez, even at the risk of a whopping fine. The Expos proceeded more cautiously by waiting 91 days before promoting Perez in August, even though the righthander, who had had drug problems also, was pitching well in the American Association. Had Montreal brought him up earlier, Perez, who at week's end was 6-0 with a 2.47 ERA, would have gotten a few more starts, and the Expos might be leading the NL East.
Radio station KMAK in Fresno, Calif., was all set to honor the catcher for the Fresno Giants of the Class A California League this summer, but unfortunately for the station, the player was called up to the AA Texas League before the ceremony. His name? Joe Kmak.
Last week ESPN's SportsCenter conducted one of those totally unscientific call-in surveys of public opinion on the NFL strike. Of the 15,000 viewers who spent 50 cents to dial a 900 number to register their views, 73% sided with the owners, 25% favored the players and, get this, 2%, or 300 people, called just to say they were undecided.
With student interest in Carnegie Mellon University's football fortunes in a chronic sag, Bruce Gerson, sports information director at the Pittsburgh school, which is noted for the excellence of its science and engineering departments, decided desperate measures were required. Having determined that the student body was more interested in computers than in football, Gerson staged Diskette Day at Tech Field in conjunction with the Tartans' Sept. 19 home game against the Case Western Reserve Spartans. Computer disks, which sell for $2 at the college computer store, would be handed out to the first 400 students who showed up for the game. "It's an ugly idea," said senior math major Leonard Dickens, "but it'll work."
Gerson's disks were snapped up all right, but his premise, that the way to an engineer's heart is through his software, remains unproved. It rained heavily the day of the game, and though Carnegie Mellon won 13-12, attendance was no better than usual—about 2,000.
A rare species of Australian sandpiper was found last week on a remote stretch of Duxbury Beach south of Boston. When the news got out, American birders were all atwitter because Cox's sandpiper was first identified only five years ago and all previous sightings had been made in Australia. Terry Savaloja, a birder from Minneapolis, drove to Duxbury Beach, where he hoped to get a glimpse. "This is a once-in-a-lifetime event," he told the Boston Herald.
The sandpiper ended up in a net that had been set by the Manomet Bird Observatory in the course of routine research. Some experts speculated that the bird may have gotten lost while traveling from its hatching area to its winter habitat in Australia. In any case, the species is so obscure that the ornithologists who found this specimen didn't know at first what it was. They weighed, photographed, banded and released it without realizing that a bird in the hand is worth...oh, never mind.
The iron man of Japanese baseball, Sachio Kinugasa, who in June surpassed Lou Gehrig's record of 2,130 consecutive games played, has announced he will retire at the end of this season, which concludes on Oct. 20. Kinugasa, 40, is the third baseman for the Hiroshima Toyo Carp of the Central League. He had planned to call it quits last year, at the end of his 16th season, but the pursuit of Gehrig's 48-year-old record kept him going. Now, with that goal attained—his streak was at 2,197 games last week—and his batting average in the .240's, Kinugasa is stepping down. Of greater concern to him than his batting are his fielding and his endurance, which he fears might not be sufficient to get him through another season. "My confidence in continuing has collapsed," he said.
Florida is growing more than grapefruit these days. The offensive line at Miami Carol City High, reading from right tackle to left, is Willie Johnson, 310 pounds; Rudy Barber, 265; Cory Muldrow, 245; Edoris Cromartie, 315; and Lionel Jones, 315. The state prize for individual size belongs to offensive tackle Robert Russ of Deerfield Beach High. He is 6'8" and weighs 385. His teammates call him the Glacier.
HE MADE THE CLIMB TO FITNESS
Eight years ago Steve Silva, a 5'8" physical education instructor in Randolph, Mass., weighed 425 pounds. Doctors told him he wouldn't live more than five years. Silva's blood pressure was 206 over 135, his cholesterol count was more than 450, and he suffered from gout, a bad back and a degenerative joint disease in both ankles. He could not climb a flight of stairs without gasping for air. This week, Silva, now a 190-pound hunk, will attempt to run up and down the 1,652 steps of the Eiffel Tower 7½ times in less than 2 hours, 1 minute and 24 seconds, the record for the so-called vertical mile, which was set by Dale Neil at the Peachtree Plaza Hotel in Atlanta in 1984.
Silva may not get the record; though he has covered the distance in training many times, his best unofficial clocking is 2:05. But his chances of living long enough to try again are excellent, thanks to a dietary and exercise regimen supervised by Health Management Resources (HMR), a Boston company that is cosponsor, with l'Association Règionale de Cardiologie de l'Ile-de-France, of the Eiffel Tower climb. Silva, now 39, is HMR's star graduate and, since 1984, its director of fitness.
High school sports kept Silva's weight around 250 pounds, but when he finished college and began teaching, his weight ballooned. He tried every diet that came along and over a 10-year period lost 100 pounds six different times. Each time the pounds not only returned, they also increased.
After enrolling in HMR's obesity treatment program in 1979, Silva went on a 520-calorie-a-day diet of liquid food supplement and remained on it for 9½ months. His physical condition was monitored weekly, and he attended weight-control classes. "But most important, I increased my physical activity," he says. He sure did. To train for the Eiffel ascent, Silva ran 3,100 flights of stairs—46,500 steps—a week.
THEY SAID IT
•Carlton Fisk, White Sox catcher, on his call for a slider, which pitcher Floyd Bannister shook off in favor of a fastball, which Seattle's Harold Reynolds hit for a single, which cost Bannister a perfect game: "Maybe I should send my fingers to Cooperstown. I called a perfect game."
•Lawrence White, wide receiver for the Chicago Bears' strike-replacement team, before the team's first practice: "We're coming together as a unit."
•Cliff Hagan, University of Kentucky athletic director, on his press relations: "I resent when I read in the paper I was unavailable for comment. I'm always available for comment, even if my comment is 'No comment.' "