CRIME AND PUNISHMENT
Pete Rose isn't the only sporting legend to come in for harsh discipline in recent days. On Sunday veteran race driver A. J. Foyt was fined $5,000 and suspended from the NASCAR circuit for six months after he nearly hit several race officials while driving his car out of the pits during the Winston 500 at the Alabama International Motor Speedway. By contrast, on Friday the NHL suspended Edmonton enforcer Marty McSorley for three games for viciously spearing Calgary's Mike Bullard during an April 23 playoff game (SI, May 2). Isn't it curious that while their sports were throwing the book at the illustrious Rose and Foyt, the NHL was being lenient with McSorley, a journeyman with a history of creating mayhem on the ice?
ONE FOR THE ROSES
SI's William Nack forecasts the 1988 Kentucky Derby:
Forget the nonsense you have been hearing about Saturday's Derby being wide open. This is a three-horse Derby, and the three are Private Terms, Risen Star and Winning Colors. Private Terms, undefeated in seven starts and bred to stay the distance, won the nine-furlong Wood Memorial decisively. Risen Star, a son of Secretariat out of a stakes-winning mare, was caught in traffic twice in Keeneland's Lexington Stakes, but ran down Forty Niner, last year's 2-year-old champion.
May 8, 1988
Then there's the lone filly in the Derby, Winning Colors, owned by Gene Klein (page 98). The fast track was to her advantage in her front-running triumph in the Santa Anita Derby, but there is no denying the electricity of her performance. And she is bred for distance. The Derby is a lot to ask of a filly—only two, Regret (1915) and Genuine Risk (1980), have won it—and victory seldom goes to a front-runner. But this big filly comes to Kentucky with an effortless gait and a certain aura. The guess here is that Winning Colors will win it wire to wire.
A BURNT OFFERING
Phil McKiverkin, a pitcher for Iona College in New Rochelle, N.Y., had lost seven games in a row, so he decided to do something about it. "I had bought this new glove, a Bret Saberhagen model, back in the fall, but I just couldn't win with it," says McKiverkin. "The only answer was exorcism."
Before a home game with Columbia on April 19, McKiverkin doused the glove with alcohol and set it afire along the foul line in left. Teammates gathered around the burning glove and gave various incantations—some in Hebrew, some in Italian.
The next day McKiverkin relieved against Brooklyn College, wearing a borrowed glove, and got credit for the 26-14 win. "I'm grateful to my teammates," he says. "They could have burned my right arm instead."
The six-year agreement announced last week by the NBA and the league's players' association is a tribute to both Larry Fleisher, who is about to retire after 26 years of representing the union, and NBA commissioner David Stern. Though negotiations had been stalled for more than a year, the two sides worked with a common goal: the prosperity of the league. The length of the accord is unprecedented in the recent history of sports labor, and now pro basketball presumably can look forward to at least six years of peace.
The league moved closer to true free agency for players by modifying the right of first refusal, which gives a team with a man who has played out his option the opportunity to match the salary offered by another club. From now on that right will not apply to a veteran who has played out his second contract; for now a veteran is defined as a player with seven years' service, but that figure becomes five years in 1988-89 and four years in 1993-94. The salary cap, which had also restricted free agency, will probably be gradually increased so that by 1993 the average salary of an NBA player is expected to reach $900,000—it is now $510,000. The college draft will be cut from seven rounds to three this year, and to two rounds thereafter. In addition, the two sides agreed in principle to establish a pension program for old-timers who retired before 1965 (SCORECARD, May 2).
"Both sides made compromises," said Stern. "It's better to make peace than war so the league can grow."
As for pro football's continuing labor dispute, the NFL Players Association claimed victory last week when the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) 1) dismissed a complaint by the owners that the players had failed to bargain in good faith and 2) declared that an "impasse" had been reached in the talks. The latter was a key finding, because on Jan. 29 U.S. District Judge David Doty, who is presiding over an antitrust suit brought by the union against the league, had ruled that the owners could continue imposing free-agency restrictions until a collective bargaining impasse was reached. In the wake of the NLRB ruling, Doty could issue a preliminary injunction requested by the union allowing some 500 players to become free agents. Or he could let the free-agency issue be decided as part of the antitrust suit, which might take years.
"It was a slam dunk," said Gene Upshaw, executive director of the union, of the NLRB ruling.
"If that's what he is going to call a slam dunk, he's got an awful lot more minutes to play," responded John Jones, spokesman for the NFL Management Council.
Rather than borrowing a metaphor from basketball, the two sides should take a hint from the NBA's successful contract negotiations.
UNDER THE HAMMER
Ordinarily, softball is not a hazardous undertaking. But a recent women's game between the visiting University of Massachusetts and Boston College was given an unexpected element of danger when hammers thrown by competitors in the Boston College Relays started landing in the outfield. "I've never in my life had an experience like that," said Massachusetts coach Elaine Sortino. "The umpires told us to advise our outfielders that when they [the umpires] yelled 'Heads up!' the outfielders were to start running toward home plate."
However, several of the 16-pound weights landed in the outfield without a warning, so Sortino pulled her team after one inning. Wisely, the officials called the game for "unsafe playing conditions."
When the Detroit Tigers acquired outfielder Billy Beane from Minnesota this spring, they created confusion because they already had an outfielder named Billy Bean. The Tigers temporarily eliminated the problem when they later sent Bean down to the Class AAA Toledo Mud Hens, who have an outfielder named Pete Rice. Last week Detroit sent Billy Beane down to Toledo. On Sunday the Mud Hens had an outfield of Bean(e)s and Rice.
A BABE IN FOOTBALL'S TOYLAND
His journey began some 40 years ago when he left his hometown of Rochester, Pa., riding on a casket in a boxcar to Lexington, Ky., to show his arm off to Kentucky coach Bear Bryant. The rest of Vito (Babe) Parilli's quarterbacking career reads like an extended train schedule: Lexington, Green Bay, Cleveland, Green Bay, Ottawa, Oakland, Boston and New York. Then he became a coach and went from Pittsburgh to New York to Charlotte, N.C., to Denver to Foxboro, Mass., to Denver and now to Providence, as the coach of the New England Steamrollers in the Arena Football League, the indoor, miniaturized version of pro football now in its second season.
Parilli, 58, is probably the only man who can say he has been associated with the National, Canadian, American, World, United States and Arena football leagues. "Every time I think I'm finished with this crazy game, something happens to bring me back," says football's most famous Babe.
At Kentucky, Parilli set an NCAA record with 23 touchdown passes his junior year. In the NFL he never quite lived up to his potential, so Parilli tried the CFL and then the AFL. In 1963 he led the Boston Patriots to the AFL title game, which they lost 51-10 to the San Diego Chargers. When the New York Jets won Super Bowl III, he was the backup to Joe Namath, another quarterback from western Pennsylvania who played college ball for Bryant.
Parilli's last coaching job was as an assistant with the Denver Gold of the USFL. "I was settled in Denver and all set to take a p.r. job," he says, "but then Gino Cappelletti, my old Patriots teammate and a friend of the Steamrollers' owner [Frank J. Russo], gets on the phone and asks me to come back to New England."
Parilli says Arena football takes some getting used to, what with the small fields, the eight men on a team and the weird rules on substitution. In Parilli's season opener Friday night in Providence, the Chicago Bruisers bruised the Steamrollers 60-35. "Basically we lost because we couldn't snap the ball or play pass defense," said Parilli. "But the fans had a great time. I think Arena football has a 1,000 percent better chance of making it than the WFL or USFL."
THEY SAID IT
•Keith Van Horne, Chicago Bears offensive tackle, on how he proposed to his new bride, Eleanor Mondale, daughter of former Vice-President Walter Mondale: "I just asked her if she wanted to hang out with me for the rest of our lives."