KEEPING 'EM IN STITCHES
The stage at the Comedy Factory Outlet in Philadelphia Friday night belonged to an aspiring comic who was taking a break from his regular job. Once he was in the spotlight, he told the audience, "I'd like to show you what a really nasty cross-check would be. This would be 40 games." Then he took a prop out of an equipment bag: a helmet with a hockey stick embedded in it, a la Steve Martin. Said the comedian, "Now this is a cross-check." The audience exploded with laughter.
The would-be funnyman was Dave Brown, the Philadelphia Flyers winger who was sitting out a relatively mild 15-game suspension for a vicious crosscheck to the jaw of New York Rangers winger Tomas Sandstrom on Oct. 26. Brown, who is being paid by the Flyers despite the suspension, emceed two shows Friday and showed a real flair for comedy: "New York fans are pretty wild.... We'd probably pack the place if the Rangers weren't there. They could just sit back and throw things at us." Hahahahaha.
It was probably too much to hope that Brown, a noted enforcer on the ice, would be contrite about his cheap shot on Sandstrom. But to laugh about it publicly was a different, even sicker story. Worse yet, several Flyer players were in the audience, cheering.
Seriously, folks, we have a suggestion. We think Brown should really pursue a career in comedy and give up his job in hockey. After all, he has already made a joke of the game.
IN THE BLINK OF AN EYE
Hall of Fame jockey Bill Hartack is now a steward at Hawthorne Race Course in Cicero, Ill., and he says, "I've been around a long time, but I've never seen anything like it." Hartack is talking about a race a few weeks ago at Hawthorne in which Roaring River, a 4-year-old colt belonging to Washington Redskins owner Jack Kent Cooke, scored his first win in 19 career starts. The victory itself wasn't all that strange—Roaring River went off the favorite in the maiden claiming race and paid $3.60. What had Hartack and other onlookers shaking their heads was this: Roaring River left the gate wearing blinkers, but by the time he crossed the finish line, it was jockey Francisco Torres who had them on.
Here's how Torres describes the race: "We left the gate, and the blinkers became loose going down the back-stretch. They were flapping in his face, and he couldn't see where he was going, so I reached up over his head and took them off. I couldn't throw them away, because that might spook another horse, or it could have disqualified my horse if he didn't finish the race with all of his equipment. So I put them in my mouth.... It was the best thing that could have happened to him. He always quit before, but this time he just ran down the horse beside him and won by three lengths."
Roaring River's trainer, Bert Sonnier, naturally decided to eschew blinkers in the colt's next start a week later. The result? With Torres up, Roaring River, the third choice in a field of 12, finished 10th. Like his blinkers, the horse is on and off.
The Houston Oilers have an epic tandem at quarterback. With their starter Warren Moon and backup Brent Pease, they have the combination of Warren Pease.
Officials of Memorial Stadium in Baltimore conducted an experiment during the Penn State-Maryland football game on Nov. 7. The only beer served by stadium vendors contained no alcohol, and fans were prohibited from bringing their own intoxicating beverages into the stadium.
The results were impressive: Only two arrests were made in the sellout crowd of 62,500, and both of those were not related to drinking. By comparison, when Maryland played at Memorial Stadium against Miami in 1985, there were 36 arrests, most of them alcohol-related. "I didn't see or feel the tension you often find in crowds where alcohol is allowed," said Ralph Chase, the stadium manager.
From an economic perspective, the stadium took a bath. The concessionaires sold only $2,300 worth of the no-alcohol beer. During that Miami-Maryland game, the beer sales were more than $100,000. "In time, beer without alcohol will gain acceptance," said Lou Grasmick, a commissioner with the parks department.
For many fans, though, the restrictions enhanced enjoyment of the game. "The last time I went to a Maryland game at the stadium, I was disgusted by the behavior and the drinking of the people around me," said Mark Hummel, a 31-year-old banker from Baltimore. "This time I was able to enjoy the game without those distractions. It was a real pleasure."
BECAUSE IT'S THERE
An adventurous, some say reckless, group of runners is in the Himalayas preparing for the first Everest Marathon. The only traditional thing about the race will be the distance: 26 miles, 385 yards. It will start in Nepal on Nov. 27 at Gorak Shep—a flat area 17,000 feet above sea level—go over two uphill stretches, pass the Dhangboche Buddhist monastery and wind down to 11,500 feet in the Sherpa capital of Namche Bajar.
That may sound like a romantic run for the 36 foreign entrants, ages 25 to 61, but along with the normal travails of a marathon, they will face subfreezing temperatures and "acute mountain sickness," a potentially fatal condition that can be caused by strenuous exercise at high altitudes. Chris Jenner, the head of a team of doctors overseeing the race, told The Daily Telegraph of London, "I would not want anyone to think I am overstating the case, but people die at altitude, whether they are running a marathon or not. It is a very risky business." So risky that competitors are reminded in a pamphlet that "in the event of death, repatriation of bodies will be impractical."
WE GOT YOU, BABE
Baseball fans must be cringing at a scene in the popular new movie Suspect. The movie is about a murder trial, and at one point the defense attorney, played by Cher, tries to demonstrate to the jury that her client is lefthanded. So she throws her keys at him suddenly, and when he catches them in his left hand, we are supposed to believe that proves he's a southpaw. Don't these movie people know that a righthanded baseball player catches with his left hand?
The Colonel James H. Bishop Award is annually given by the United States Tennis Association to the U.S. Junior Davis Cup squad member who best exemplifies the highest standards of character, conduct, sportsmanship, appearance and tennis accomplishment. The recipient of this year's award was Stanford University senior Patrick McEnroe, who is John's younger sibling.
The sports endorsement business has gone too far. On press releases from the University of Miami sports information office, Savin gets a plug as the "official copier of the UM SID office."
BASEBALL IS A HOBBY FOR THIS JACKSON
Bo Jackson isn't the only professional athlete, or even the only running back named Jackson, with crossover dreams. While Kansas City Royals outfielder Bo is using the off-season to participate in his "hobby"-football—by playing for the Los Angeles Raiders, Pittsburgh Steelers running back Earnest Jackson, who is among the NFL rushing leaders with 580 yards, is collecting baseball cards as well as yardage. In fact, Jackson and business partner John Zyskowski opened a sports memorabilia store—The Card Shark—in Pittsburgh earlier this month.
"It started when I was a kid," says the 27-year-old Jackson, who grew up in Rosenberg, Texas. "I wasn't much of a baseball fan, but if I got a couple of dollars, I would go out and buy baseball cards. They were fun to sell and trade to my friends. I got into it heavily after reading some books on baseball card-collecting, and I realized it could be fun and profitable."
Jackson chucked aside the cards while attending Texas A & M, but he resumed his hobby in 1983 when he was a rookie with the San Diego Chargers. His most prized possession is the 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle rookie card, which is worth approximately $4,200.
Jackson himself was something of a discard, having been released last year by the Philadelphia Eagles after consecutive 1,000-yard seasons with the Chargers and the Eagles. The Steelers picked him up for the waiver price of $100, and in 10 games last year, he rushed for 910 yards and made the Pro Bowl.
Being a football player has helped Jackson in his collecting because the travel allows him to shop in different parts of the country. And in the off-season, when he's at a card convention, Jackson the collector just takes out a pen and becomes Jackson the sports celebrity: He autographs his own football cards for a dollar or two. As he said, he's in it for profit as well as fun.
Earnest, by the way, has Bo's rookie baseball card, which is already worth $2.50.
THEY SAID IT
•Mel Turpin, NBA center recently traded from Cleveland to Utah, on how it was that he reported to the Jazz at 280 pounds, 20 more than the Cavaliers said he weighed: "I love airplane food."
•Bryan Millard, Seattle offensive guard, on the toughness of Seahawk linebacker Fredd Young: "I would rather sandpaper a bobcat's butt in a phone booth than be tackled by Fredd."